A dominant narrative, especially in Washington, is that China extends its global influence by exporting its developmental model and imposing it on other countries. But China also extends its influence by working through local actors and institutions while adapting and assimilating local and traditional forms, norms, and practices. With the generous support of the Ford Foundation, Carnegie has launched an innovative body of research on Chinese engagement in seven regions of the world—Africa, Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, the Pacific, South Asia, and Southeast Asia—exploring these adaptive Chinese strategies that work within local realities and are mostly ignored by Western policymakers.
Despite ambivalence about Chinese intentions in Indonesia’s political and defense establishment, Chinese telecoms firms have successfully used strategies of localization to position themselves as trusted cybersecurity providers to the country.
Panelists will discuss how local players in three Southeast Asian countries—the Philippines, Malaysia, and Myanmar—pushed Chinese actors to adapt to local conditions.
A high-end real estate development that caters to Chinese entrepreneurs became caught up in divisive Malaysian politics. Chinese investors are learning hard lessons about how to navigate local turf wars and political risks.
Algeria and Egypt pressed China’s telecom national champion Huawei for more value-added manufacturing and technology transfers. The company responded, but it ultimately improved its brand image without engaging in meaningful capacity building.
Beninese officials have shown how even small countries can use close coordination between ministries and other negotiating tactics to strike deals with Chinese counterparts that better protect their own interests.
Outside national capitals, Chinese players are engaging local actors, from mayors, to community groups, to faith-based organizations in dynamic ways. This, in turn, is both entrenching China’s influence and compelling Chinese actors to adapt to and meet local demands.
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