The U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute recently published a report entitled “China-Latin America Military Engagement: Good Will, Good Business, and Strategic Position.” The report was written by Dr. R. Evan Ellis, Assistant Professor at the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies. Dr. Ellis argues that over the past few years China “has expanded its military ties with Latin America in multiple important ways, consistent with its own public declarations of intention.”
He identifies five main types of military engagement in Latin America: “(1) meetings between senior military officials, (2) lower-level military-to-military interactions, (3) military sales, (4) military-relevant commercial interactions, and (5) Chinese physical presence within Latin America with military-strategic implications.”
Ellis goes on to argue that China’s increasing military interactions in Latin America shouldn’t necessarily be considered a problem or a threat. In many cases, China is pursuing “arguably legitimate national security interests, while remaining attentive to the United States…” It is “building good will, understanding, and political leverage among important commercial partners and technology sources, creating the tools to protect PRC interests in countries where it does business, selling Chinese products and moving up the value-added chain in strategically important sectors.”
As China-Latin America military engagement grows in volume and sophistication, however, Ellis urges the US to work with China to achieve greater transparency and to engage China in a positive fashion regarding its pursuits in Latin America. The United States, he says, must also improve its understanding of China’s growing military engagement in the region.
You’ll find a copy of Dr. Ellis’ report HERE.