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.

Global South Unit
London School of Economics and Political Science
Houghton Street. London WC2A 2AE. United Kingdom
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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.

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