GIGA Focus International Edition English ,

China in Latin America: Competition in the United States’ “Strategic Backyard”

GIGA Focus | International Edition English | Number 07 |

In May 2013, both China and the United States engaged in high-level travel diplomacy with selected states in the Caribbean and Latin America. Apart from bilateral trade agreements, China and the United States have shifted their engagement with the Region toward high politics.

China’s increased interest in the Caribbean and Latin America has been deemed a threat to the United States in its “strategic backyard.” However, the complexity of Beijing’s relationships in the region warrants a more detailed analysis.

  • After the 9/11 attacks and the US-led “war on terror” in other regions of the world, Latin America did not rank high on the US foreign policy agenda. But since China has become Latin America’s second largest trading partner and has started to establish strategic partnerships in the region, the United States seems to have become more concerned about these developments.

  • Latin America is employing a multiangular approach by strengthening its ties with both the United States and China as well as other extraregional partners. In part, this has forced the United States to adapt its strategy accordingly and to offer the region a new type of cooperative partnership.

  • China’s interest in the Caribbean and Latin America is still primarily driven by access to resources and markets. However, it has started to upgrade its cooperation with selected states in the region to include issues of high politics. It is building gateways to the region by identifying key players in the region’s territorial subunits.

  • Apart from bilateral relations, China has recently turned to regional organizations and institutions.

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Suggested Citation Style

Noesselt, Nele, und Ana Soliz Landivar (2013), China in Latin America: Competition in the United States’ “Strategic Backyard”, GIGA Focus International Edition English, 07, urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-359723


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The German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) – Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien in Hamburg publishes the Focus series on Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and global issues. The GIGA Focus is edited and published by the GIGA. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the institute. Authors alone are responsible for the content of their articles. GIGA and the authors cannot be held liable for any errors and omissions, or for any consequences arising from the use of the information provided.

General Editor GIGA Focus Series: Prof. Dr. Sabine Kurtenbach