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China Is Getting Closer to One of the Best US Allies in Latin America


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China Is Getting Closer to One of the Best US Allies in


MARCH 25, 2020
Latin America
Japan’s Limited
Response to the
40 years since relations were established, Colombia-China relations are entering a
COVID-19 bold new phase.
Pandemic

By Juan Camilo Martínez Garcia


March 27, 2020

MARCH 23, 2020 Colombia has been cataloged as the “best friend” of the United
Telegram Sex States in Latin America. Besides the long common history
Slave Video
between both countries, particularly during the Cold War, in
Scandal Hits
South Korea the past two decades Washington and Bogota have truly come
together on economic and foreign policy, starting with the
“Plan Colombia” in 1998. The compatibility between the
governments of Alvaro Uribe Velez (2002-2010) in Colombia
and George W. Bush (2001-2009) brought convergence on the
MARCH 20, 2020 War on Terror and an FTA signed in 2006. Bush even gave
China, Italy, and Uribe the Presidential Freedom award in 2009. Cooperation
Coronavirus:
advanced to the point that a defense agreement was signed in Colombia’s President Ivan Duque, left, speaks during a
Geopolitics and
Propaganda 2009 to allow U.S. military personnel to use Colombian military bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the
bases, but the following year the proposal was finally rejected Great Hall of the People in Beijing, July 31, 2019.
Credit: AP Photo/Andy Wong, Pool

M
by Colombians.
MULTIMEDIA
During the next decade, the Colombia-U.S. relationship
continued to be especially close on security policies. Both armies are close,
military exercises are executed regularly, and in 2017 Colombia became the first
Latin American global partner of NATO.
MARCH 28, 2020
Of course, this partnership implies close economic relations too. The United States
Japan’s
Postponement of remains the first trade partner of Colombia. Meanwhile, China became the second
the Olympics: just a few years ago. But China’s economic engagement has been almost solely on
What Next? the trade level. Investment and diplomatic relations between China and Colombia
have been rather stale.

Nevertheless, in 2015 this started to change with the signing of a Technical and
Economic Cooperation Agreement for investments and the official visit of Chinese
MARCH 19, 2020 Prime Minster Li Keqiang to Bogota.
Making Sense of
Four years later, in October 2019, Chinese companies China Harbor Engineering
Malaysia’s 2020
Political Tumult and Xian Metro company won the tender for the most important infrastructure
project in the capital city of Colombia: the first metro line in Bogotá. The project is
estimated to cost $4 billion and the construction time is six years.

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MARCH 18, 2020 By stark contrast, between 2002 and 2019 China invested around $240 million
Of Film and total in Colombia. Further driving home the increased scale, last year it was
Adventure in confirmed by President Iván Duque Márquez that Colombia expects around $1
Mainland
billion in Chinese investments in energy projects alone. Also, it was announced
Southeast Asia
that the Bank of China and the China Development Bank will finance one of the

I
4G roads projects, which will improve the connectivity of Antioquia, a
INTERVIEW department with great economic importance in the country thanks to its access to
the Caribbean Sea. Chinese companies also won tenders for the construction of a
regional railroad and the control of one of the most important gold mines of
Colombia.

MARCH 24, 2020 On the strategic level, Duque made a visit to China in August 2019 and declared a
Nicholas Wyman new “roadmap” for relations with the Asian country. This includes donations for
on How COVID- renewable energy projects, investment for infrastructure, deeper trade relations,
19 Will Affect
a proposal for a direct flight in cooperation with Chinese airlines, among other
Asia and the
Global Economy aspects. During the visit, Duque even went to the Monument to the People’s
By ANKIT PANDA Heroes in Beijing and paid his respects to the Chinese revolution martyrs.
Nicholas Wyman
addresses how Recently, current Chinese Ambassador Lan Hu announced to local press that
COVID-19 will Colombia and China are about to sign an agreement that includes infrastructure
change the way investment within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
the world works,
studies, and It is important to notice that Duque belongs to the political party “Centro
travels. Democrático,” cataloged on the far-right spectrum and led by none other than
Alvaro Uribe Velez. As previously mentioned, the former president reinforced the
rapprochement with the United States during the first decade of the 21st century,
and it was expected that the current administration would follow a similar trend.

A 2019 report from the Atlantic Council regarding U.S.-Colombia relations has
already highlighted that the increasing influence of China in Colombia is
something worth noticing over the long term.

What we are seeing today might be just the first solid and public steps of China in
this country, increasing their influence even in one of the staunchest regional
allies of the United States. As the former Chinese Ambassador Xu Wei was quoted
saying in a local magazine last year: “It is time to collect the harvest.” While there
is still a long way to go regarding economic and diplomatic relations, it is worth
keeping an eye on how far Chinese investment will go in the American
hemisphere, especially in one of Washington’s main allies.

Juan Camilo Martínez Garcia is a Colombian international relations professional


specializing in Asia-Pacific studies. 

TAGS

China Power Diplomacy China China in Latin America China in South America China-Colombia relations U.S.-China Competition

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