The Politics of Latin America’s Investment and Other Links with China: Contextualizing the Region’s Cash Chasing while Racking Richer Research Rewards


There are three positions about the impact of outward foreign direct investment (FDI) from China on the policies of Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries: the “Wealth is Power” camp, which associates political power with Chinese economic lures; the “Conditionalist” camp, which contends the international and domestic economic and political context determines the specific political effect of Chinese outward FDI (OFDI); and the “Politics is Power” camp, which believes no dramatic political changes have resulted from the economic stimuli of Chinese OFDI (COFDI) and associated economic lures. Case studies herein on Brazil and China, Argentina and China, Ecuador and China, and the Caribbean and China support the Conditionalist camp, albeit to differing degrees and for different reasons. Case studies herein on COFDI in Argentina and in Colombia also deepen our knowledge about the drivers of COFDI. They challenge those asserting that COFDI in LAC is driven purely by political motives. This piece also reviews and critiques the state of the literature on COFDI in LAC and suggests a pathway for moving to the next level. It specifically recommends researchers work to cumulate knowledge by asking similar kinds of questions across cases, exploit theory, and work on variable conceptualization and operationalization.

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    Except as otherwise noted, all amounts herein are denominated in US Dollars (USD).


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The author would like to thank Bas Hooijmaaijers and Javier Luque for their feedback. He further would like to thank Courtland Johnson and Javier Luque for their research assistance as well as Javier’s distillation of various Spanish-language articles. He also thanks Xu Jing for her help conforming this piece to JCPS style requirements. Lastly, he is grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions.

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Correspondence to Jean-Marc F. Blanchard.

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Blanchard, J.F. The Politics of Latin America’s Investment and Other Links with China: Contextualizing the Region’s Cash Chasing while Racking Richer Research Rewards. J OF CHIN POLIT SCI 24, 565–582 (2019).

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  • China
  • Latin America
  • Chinese outward foreign direct investment
  • Political economy of national security
  • United States