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China in Latin America: The Whats and Wherefores

R. Evan Ellis
China in Latin America: The Whats and Wherefores
ISBN: 978-1-58826-650-7
ISBN: 978-1-58826-675-0
2009/329 pages/LC: 2009002519

A related title: China Engages Latin America by Adrian H. Hearn and José Luis León Manríquez, editors

"[A] fine, informative book.... The book's design makes it an instantly valuable reference work to keep track of China's engagement in Latin America."—Jorge I. Domínguez, East Asia

"An impressive work of research on the widespread economic and political influence of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in Latin America and the Caribbean.... Outstanding and eye-opening."—Ignacio López-Calvo, China Review International

"Provides a wealth of information ... to give an up-to-date picture of Chinese-Latin American relations."—Rhys Jenkins, Journal of Latin American Studies

"No other English-language source provides such encyclopaedic detail and information across so many aspects of the relationship.... An outstanding survey of the aspects of China’s growing presence in the region, presented in the context of Chinese as well as Latin American interests."—Cynthia J. Arnson, China Quarterly

"A remarkably detailed compendium—nearly encyclopedic in scope—of China's diplomatic, economic, military, and cultural activities in the region." —Gabriel Marcella, Americas Quarterly

"Thoroughly explores an emerging area of 21st-century international politics."—Choice

"An essential guide for anyone interested in getting an up-to-date briefing on the origins and state of play in the burgeoning China–Latin America relationship."—Kevin P. Gallagher, Boston University


With China on the minds of many in Latin America—from politicians and union leaders to people on the street, from business students to senior bankers—a number of important questions arise. Why, for example, is China so rapidly expanding its ties with the region? What is the nature of the new connection, and how will it affect institutions, economic structures, politics, and society? R. Evan Ellis provides a comprehensive look at the character and impact of the developing PRC–Latin America relationship.

Ellis examines how the relationship has taken on distinct characteristics in various subregions, considering the role of supplier-and-market countries such as Argentina and Brazil, China’s cautious dance with populism as it seeks access to Andean oil, and the dominance of the Taiwan issue in China’s dealings with Central America and the Caribbean. He also addresses the unique case of Cuba. Not least, his work sheds light on the implications of the China–Latin America relationship for conventional wisdom regarding globalization, development, and the links between economics and politics.


R. Evan Ellis is associate professor of national security affairs in the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, National Defense University. 


  • China’s Expanding Ties with Latin America.
  • Why China Is Interested in Latin America.
  • Why Latin America Is Interested in China.
  • The Southern Cone: Soy, Oil, Iron, and Customers.
  • The Andes: Fishmeal, Oil, and Tenuous Alliances.
  • Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean: Strategic Position and the Taiwan Card.
  • Considering Latin America’s Future.