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Report to Congress on China’s Engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean

Relations between the People’s Republic of China (PRC, or China) and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have grown substantially over the past 20 years. This growing engagement, which remains primarily economic and diplomatic, has led some U.S. policymakers to consider the potential implications of strengthening PRC- LAC ties for U.S. interests.

Diplomacy Beijing’s diplomatic initiatives in LAC have helped advance China’s economic priorities, institutionalize its engagement in the region, and garner support in international fora. Some analysts assess that the PRC’s activities in LAC do not appear to be aimed at challenging the United States directly or militarily, yet reflect a global strategy to counter U.S. influence. China’s diplomatic efforts include being an observer at the Organization of American States, a member of the Inter-American Development Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank, and a participant in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

Since 2014, China has sought to engage with the region through the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), a region-wide organization that excludes the United States and Canada. During the Third Ministers’ Meeting of the China-CELAC Forum in December 2021, the parties adopted a China-CELAC Joint Action Plan (2022-2024) to guide cooperation in areas including politics and security, economy, and infrastructure. In his most recent address to the grouping in January 2023, China’s leader Xi Jinping expressed China’s support for LAC regional integration and characterized CELAC as China’s “key partner in enhancing solidarity among developing countries and furthering South-South cooperation.”

One of Beijing’s goals in the region appears to be to isolate Taiwan by incentivizing LAC countries to end formal diplomatic ties with the self-governing democracy, over which the PRC claims sovereignty, and which officially calls itself the “Republic of China.” Currently, seven governments in LAC (out of 13 governments worldwide) maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The remaining 26 maintain formal diplomatic relations with the PRC. Since 2017, five LAC governments have established formal diplomatic relations with the PRC, ending their formal recognition of Taiwan; the country to do this most recently was Honduras in March 2023.

Source : USNI