China's Engagement with Latin America: Partnership or Plunder?
Carmen G. Gonzalez
Seattle University School of Law
NATURAL RESOURCES AND THE GREEN ECONOMY: REDEFINING THE CHALLENGES FOR PEOPLE, STATES AND CORPORATIONS, Elena Blanco & Jona Razzaque, eds., Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Nov. 2012
Seattle University School of Law Research Paper No. 12-19
The emergence of China as a significant economic force in Latin America has sparked both optimism and alarm. With titles such as 'The Coming China Wars' and 'The Dragon in the Backyard,' recent books and articles depict China as a rising imperial power scouring the globe for natural resources and as a competitive threat to Latin America. Other studies applaud China’s pragmatic, unorthodox development strategies and portray China as a successful model for developing countries. The competing narratives about China’s rise do agree on one thing: China has become a formidable force in the developing world whose influence merits careful evaluation.
Will China's engagement with Latin America produce alternative paradigms of economic development that improve the quality of life while respecting ecological limits? Or will China replicate the trade and investment regimes that reinforced the economic and political subordination of developing countries, facilitated the exploitation of their natural resources, and brought the planet's ecosystems to the brink of collapse?
This chapter attempts to bridge the contentious debate over China’s role in Latin America by interrogating the dominant narratives that portray China as either a menace to Latin America’s development or as a model worthy of emulation. The chapter proceeds in five parts. Part I places China’s engagement with Latin America in historical context by providing an introduction to the economic history of Latin America. Part II examines the claim that China’s economic rise should be regarded as a model for Latin America. Part III evaluates the claim that China poses a threat to Latin America’s development. Parts IV and V discuss the implications of China’s rise for international economic law and for sustainable development, including China's role in the World Trade Organization, China's bilateral trade and investment agreements with Latin American nations, and China's potential contributions to sustainable development law.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 45
Keywords: environment, sustainable development, natural resources, natural resource curse, law and development, WTO, International Trade Law, climate change, Washington consensus, Beijing Consensus, International Environmental Law, imperialism, colonialism, post-colonialism, bilateral investment treaties
JEL Classification: F02, F13, F18, F54, K32, K33, K42, N46, N56, Q27, Q33, Q34, Q56, Y30Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: March 28, 2012 ; Last revised: November 19, 2012
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