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Chaufa - A Real Choice
Beijing considers joining CABEI, China-LAC business summit, Milei reconsiders China ties, Cuba's PM in Shanghai
Hi! Welcome to Chaufa, a China-Western Hemisphere Newsletter by CPSI.
Today’s Edition covers October 30 to November 5.
This Week’s Top 5 Stories:
The PRC is looking to join the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) through exploratory talks, with bank officials hoping the country will contribute up to $3 billion to its existing $7 billion in available capital.
Per CABEI’s website, the United States is currently not a member, although Taiwan still is.
As Washington hosted leaders from the region for the APEP Leaders' Summit (in part to reduce China’s regional influence), the PRC hosted its 16th China-LAC Business Summit in Beijing and the 6th China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai. (Xinhua) (People’s Daily) (Global Times)
This is the first China-LAC Business Summit held in the PRC since COVID-19. The event had the theme “Open Innovation, Shared Development.”
An advisor to Argentine presidential candidate Milei stated that if elected, Milei would not break relations with Beijing but would rather review “secret agreements” between the two countries.
Milei had suggested this summer that he may break ties with China. In 1972, Argentina was the 5th Latin American country to recognize the PRC, after Cuba, Chile, Peru, and Mexico.
Relatedly, the China-Latin America Industrial Park (PICLA) was launched in Havana on November 3. (Xinhua)
The news contrasted with former Liberal PM Jean Chretien’s meeting with Chinese Vice President Han Zheng, whose term in office Zheng called “the 'golden decade' of bilateral relations.” (Xinhua)
Taiwan’s Donations in the English-Speaking Caribbean
Every week, it seems that Taiwanese government agencies or civil society organizations are delivering a donation, signing an MOU, or hosting a development-focused workshop in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Taken separately, these donations, MOUs, and events might not mean much, but collectively they are a key part of Taiwan’s regional engagement. This week, I put together a list of media reports on Taiwan’s development assistance1 to its English-speaking Caribbean diplomatic partners, coming to four main takeaways:2
First, it generally appears that Taiwan’s development work is more prominent in Belize’s and St. Lucia’s media than in St. Kitts and Nevis’s (SKN) or St. Vincent and the Grenadines’s (SVG). I identified 13 projects in Belize and 14 in St. Lucia from January to October of 2023, compared to just seven each in SKN or SVG.
Second, as others have suggested, Taiwan’s development assistance diverges from China’s focus on expensive infrastructure. Rather, Taiwan is largely focused on supporting society. Education is the number one priority, with ten projects identified. Moreover, education was the only area where every single country in the region had at least one project. Other society-oriented development support like health, agriculture, and supporting the state’s capacity3 seem to be where Taiwan actors are centering their development support efforts.4
Third, Taiwan isn’t a monolithic actor. Many projects are supported by Taiwan’s foreign ministry or Taiwan’s government development agency ICDF. However, semi-government actors like the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) or NGOs like the Happy Home World Alliance International Taiwan or Taiwan’s Simply Help Foundation also provide assistance. A diplomatic relationship with Taiwan doesn’t just mean access to the Taiwanese government: it also means more attention from the rest of Taiwan’s society.
Last, donations are not a one-way street. Both to promote their culture and support local education, St. Lucia’s and SKN’s embassies donated books and sponsored English summer camps. Though these may not transform Taiwan’s economy, the Caribbean can still contribute to Taiwan outside of the diplomatic arena.
Politics and security
Honduran Foreign Minister Reina met with the PRC’s Foreign Minister and Deputy Director for International Development Cooperation in advance of the CIIE. In the latter meeting, Reina presented a list of possible infrastructure, tourism, and energy projects. (FMPRC) (Hondudiario)
U.S. Congressman Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) raised concerns about tightening China-Cuba ties. (New York Post)
Leaders from the Argentine provinces Entre Ríos and Córdoba met with a Hunan province delegation to discuss trade, agriculture, tourism, culture, and education.
Bolivia’s new ambassador to China, Hugo Siles, argued in an interview that his country’s relationship with China was “diverse and robust” and in an “extraordinary moment.”
A delegation from Trinidad and Tobago’s MIC Institute of Technology, an agency of the Ministry of Education, traveled to Zhejiang Province for vocational education training.
Investment, finance, and infrastructure
Jamaican developer Can-Cara Ltd accused China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) of inappropriately demolishing a building that housed the company's operations.
A report found that of the 42 countries that entered the Mexican market with new investments in 2023, 28 were Chinese, while two were Taiwanese.
The Bahian Mineral Research Company (CBPM) signed an MOU with Chinese SOEs to establish a working group for the development of the mining sector in the Brazilian state of Bahia.
Trade and technology
Ecuador’s Supreme Court approved its recent FTA with China, although the National Assembly must still approve it for it to come into force.
After a four-year pause, PetroChina may resume up to 8 million barrels a month of oil imports from Venezuela given the U.S. lifting sanctions on the Maduro regime.
A new air-cargo route between Hangzhou, the capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, and MexicoCity was launched last week. (Xinhua)
A Nicaraguan delegation will soon travel to the PRC to celebrate the newly-signed FTA. (CGTN)
A trade exhibition between the Dominican Republic and Hunan province was held in Santo Domingo, focusing largely on agriculture machinery. (CGTN)
A delegation of ministers from Belize, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines traveled to Taiwan to meet with the foreign and environmental ministers, as well as the Legislative Yuan (Taiwan’s parliament).
The Belizean Ministry of Health signed an agreement with Taiwan to work together on preventing metabolic diseases like Tay–Sachs disease or PKU, with budget of $2 million over five years.
The Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) coordinated the 16th Annual Saint Lucia-Taiwan Partnership Trade Show with the theme “sustaining trade in the digital age.”
St. Vincent received two ambulances from Taiwan as part of a broader “Public Health Emergency Response System Enhancement Project.”
Analysis and Opinion
The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) issued a report argues that the region is increasingly engaged in a worrying trend of only exporting a select few goods to China, increasing its long-term risks.
Evan Ellis has a new piece in Infobae on the evolution of Chinese relations with the Dominican Republic.
Leopoldo López and Jianli Yang argue in the Diplomat that China’s autocratic network is hindering Venezuela’s struggle for democracy by propping up Maduro’s regime, while Antonio De La Cruz wrote about a similar topic for CSIS.
Chinese ambassador to Jamaica Chen Daojiang wrote in the Jamaica Gleaner that in the context of the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, “China is committed to conducting cooperation with Jamaica at higher levels and promoting more fruitful, mutually beneficial cooperation outcomes.”
Writing in the Diplomat, Rodrigo Moura analyzes the different approaches Brazil and Argentina have taken to their relations with China.
Within the context of Colombia’s recent agreements with China, Ralph Jennings argues in the South China Morning Post that China has made a significant and deeper foothold in the region that may concern Washington.
That’s it for now! See you next week.
Make sure you don’t miss the next issue of Chaufa 👇
For the purposes of this analysis, I identified 42 development-related MOUs, donations, and workshops in Belize, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines between January and October 2023.
As with any collection of government and non-government projects, this analysis may be incomplete. However, with 42 projects across 10 months, I hope that this still reflects the broad reality of Taiwan’s development assistance in the region. If you have any suggestions or think I missed something, let me know!
Such as contributing to the government’s budget or providing laptops to a ministry’s office.
The category “other” is composed of three projects that don’t fit neatly into any of these bins: a MOU to strengthen small and medium-sized enterprises in St. Lucia, a donation to support cultural preservation in St. Kitts, and a donation of 50 bikes in St. Kitts.