ChinaAugust 25 2022, 14:55 pm

Latin American Views on China Are Becoming More Negative Despite Leveraging of Soft Power Instruments, US Army Study Says

The US Army’s Dial­o­go Amer­i­c­as mag­a­zine recent­ly pub­lished a paper explor­ing how Chi­na has used its ver­sion of soft pow­er to fur­ther strate­gic goals in Latin Amer­i­ca and the extent to which Chi­na’s efforts have proven effec­tive. Accord­ing to the study, despite Chi­na’s use of numer­ous eco­nom­ic and soft pow­er instru­ments of pow­er in the region in recent years, gen­er­al pub­lic Latin Amer­i­can atti­tudes toward Chi­na are becom­ing more neg­a­tive over­all. Accord­ing to the study’s conclusions:

August 18, 2022  In sum, this explo­ration of pub­lic opin­ion data yields sev­er­al insights: First, despite the numer­ous eco­nom­ic and soft pow­er instru­ments of pow­er that Chi­na has lever­aged in the region in recent years, gen­er­al pub­lic Latin Amer­i­can atti­tudes on Chi­na are becom­ing more neg­a­tive, over­all. At min­i­mum, this sug­gests that these ini­tia­tives are not achiev­ing Hu’s and, more recent­ly, Xi’s pub­lic objec­tive of improv­ing China’s image abroad. Sec­ond, per­cep­tions of more Chi­nese polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic influ­ence in the region does not appear to trans­late into more pos­i­tive atti­tudes toward that influ­ence. At best, more influ­ence has lit­tle effect on positive/negative eval­u­a­tions of that influ­ence. At worst, more influ­ence results in more neg­a­tive atti­tudes toward Chi­na. Third, after years of increas­ing and strength­en­ing its pres­ence in the region, Latin Amer­i­cans per­ceive China’s polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic influ­ence to be lev­el­ing off.

Read the full study here.

Based on sur­vey data, the study notes that con­cern­ing Latin Amer­i­can pub­lic trust in Chi­na’s gov­ern­ment, trust was high­est among respon­dents from the Domini­can Repub­lic and low­est among respon­dents from Brazil. The study says sev­en Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries (Hon­duras, Paraguay, Cos­ta Rica, Nicaragua, Pana­ma, Colum­bia, Uruguay, and Brazil) expe­ri­enced a decline in trust and four (El Sal­vador, Guatemala, Mex­i­co, and Peru) expe­ri­enced an increase in trust over the 2014–2021 peri­od. The study also notes that since the 2013 One Belt One Road ini­tia­tive was extend­ed to Latin Amer­i­ca, 20 Latin Amer­i­can and Caribbean states have offi­cial­ly joined, with Argenti­na join­ing in 2022.

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report recent­ly report­ed that Chi­nese influ­ence efforts in Latin Amer­i­ca have have clear­ly erod­ed demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions and bol­stered author­i­tar­i­an­ism, sig­nal­ing poten­tial trou­ble for demo­c­ra­t­ic resilience in the Glob­al South.


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