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Paving a way for BRI in Latin America

2019-11-20 14:21:43 China Daily Global

Cooperation between China and Latin American and Caribbean ries under the Belt and Road framework will inject vitality into cross-continental relations

Cooperation between China and Latin American and Caribbean countries under the Belt and Road framework will inject vitality into cross-continental relations

At the second Forum of China and Community of Latin American and Caribbean countries (CELAC) in Chile in January 2018, State Councilor and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed the importance of improving connectivity between China and CELAC. For this, he proposed integrating the land and sea routes; cultivating big, open markets for mutual benefit; and forging advanced large-scale industries.

This has great significance for Latin America, as the region's inclusion in the Belt and Road Initiative would help improve infrastructure and productivity in Latin America, which have been overlooked since the 1980s due to various reasons.

However, it is important to pay attention to factors that can enhance or weaken the initiative - as well as the expectations of different Latin American countries and industries.

First, China's cooperation strategy has already been outlined in several documents, including the 2016 White Paper on Latin America and the Caribbean and the China-Latin American and Caribbean Countries Cooperation Plan (2015-19). In contrast, neither the region nor subregional bodies, nor the countries in the region have a clear strategy for their relationship with China, which limits the scope of Sino-Latin American cooperation.

Second, it is important to understand the consequences of the United States' attitude toward China's increasing presence in the region. Venezuela, which has been resisting US pressure, is facing political and economic crises.

Also, there are restrictions on high-tech companies such as Huawei, thanks to the US resorting to the "Monroe Doctrine" - which considers any intervention in Latin America by external powers, except the US, as a potentially hostile act against the US.

The third issue of concern is the Latin American and Caribbean countries' political and institutional framework, particularly the instability arising out of their election-based political system, which often leads to abrupt changes in national strategies, even a political crisis. Between 1989 and 2018, there have been 17 institutional disruptions in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Chilean government, for example, has been facing protests against austerity measures.