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.