China’s Engagement with Regional Actors: The Pacific Alliance

The Pacific Alliance was created as an effort to integrate its members into global supply chains and connect them to the world’s fastest-growing economies in East Asia. All four participating countries—Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru—are known for their confessed openness to free trade and investment liberalization.

Against the backdrop of the unremarkable performance of the region’s previous initiatives for cooperation and regional integration much depends on external recognition and engagement. Given the Alliance’s emphasis on trade, finance, and the geographic region of the Asia-Pacific, the recognition most vital to success is that of the People’s Republic of China: while Japan and South Korea play a dynamic role as well, particularly in the manufacturing sector, China is by far the largest and fastest-growing catalyst for Latin America’s trade, loans, and investment.

China has evidenced its eagerness to engage the Latin American region in many ways, most notably through its two policy papers in 2008 and 2016 a stream of loans and investment initiatives, and top leadership visits to the region on an annual basis. It has also thrown its weight behind CELAC, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, often described as a regional grouping that excludes Canada and the United States. But does the Alliance command a special “sweet spot” in China’s strategy for Latin America? Is Beijing responding as eagerly to the Alliance’s initiatives as some news reports suggest?
A series of interviews with academics, policy advisors, and executives in China and a review of Chinese print and online media and journal articles suggest that Beijing and China’s business community observe the Alliance with polite interest but see limited benefits for either side.

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Author: Benjamin Creutzfeldt
Institutional Author: Wilson Center, Latin American Program
Full document: 2018, Creutzfeldt, China Engagement with regional Actors The Pacific Alliance