Working Paper No. 2/2018. The growing Chinese presence in Latin America and its (Geo)political manifestations in Bolivia. (LSE GLOBAL SOUTH UNIT)
By Daniel Agramont and Gustavo Bonifaz.
Working Paper No. 2. 2018.
In recent years, the growing Chinese presence in Latin America has triggered heated academic and
policy debates, as well as social and political conict across countries in the region. Against this
background, the present paper explores the specic characteristics taken on by this dynamic in the
Bolivian case, by adopting a novel research strategy in which we tested these debates with a
combined process-tracing analysis of the evolution of the structural geo-economic relationship
between Bolivia and China, and a survey of the state of negative and positive perceptions of the
Bolivian population about the growing presence of China in Bolivia. e objective was to attain a
complete overview of the political implications of the structural changes in the sources of
geopolitical power in the bi-lateral relationship. Empirically, there is room to conclude that the
region and Bolivia are geo-economically turning more dependent on China and that relations are
not benetting broad-based development; however, there is less room to talk about a deterministic
relationship between the above and a direct geopolitical inuence in the region. Bolivian public
opinion is divided in a way that mirrors the regional debate on the issue, and the divide has reached
high levels of politicization, as it overlaps with an internally polarized political system. e Bolivian
case is important because this dynamic could replicate in the region and dene the orientation of the
region’s foreign policy towards China in the future.