Date:15-04-2009 03:03
A cable where scholars in Shaghai offer their opinions and analysis of China’s relationship with Latin America. While it is predominately an economic relationship;

“the bigger problem for China in Latin America right now, said the scholars, is its image among the local population. Zhang [Zhang Jiazhe, Vice Director of the Center for Developing Countries Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences] said competition from Chinese imports, like textiles and shoes, is creating negative feelings towards China among countries with large low-end manufacturing industries, mentioning Mexico as an example. There is also a perception in Latin America that Chinese investors are like ‘locusts,’ extracting minerals and natural resources and leaving very little of lasting value behind, said the scholars. Chinese companies, on the other hand, find it difficult to invest in Latin America, according to Niu [Niu Haibin, Deputy Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies]. Chinese companies complain about strong labor unions and cultural conflicts in Latin America, including a ‘different work ethic’ between Latin American workers and Chinese workers, said Niu. Chinese companies thus prefer to import workers from China for projects in Latin America, often at the cost of local resentment.”

One conclusion was that it would be easier for Chinese businesses to do business in Africa, not Latin America, as its “institutions and regulatory environment are less well-developed than Latin America’s.” One cable line in particular stood out, when Eduardo R. Ablin, Consul General of the Consulate-General of Argentina in Shanghai discussed the high levels of export of Argentinean products to China, particularly poultry: “Ablin thanked KFC for getting the Chinese hooked on chicken wings.”


Peter Fray

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