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.
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.
A lively discussion of powerful similarities and intriguing differences across four regions—Southeast Asia, Latin America, Central Asia, and South Asia—and what can be learned by comparing local strategies and Chinese responses around infrastructure, investment, and training.
Chinese economic players in Myanmar initially relied on ties to the government and ruling elites. Faced with controversy, they turned to actors that local communities trust and listen to as de facto partners and informal advisers.
Argentina is one of the few places in the world where China has made considerable investments in renewable energy. It is Argentinians themselves who successfully pushed Chinese players to help rebuild their power grid from the ground up.
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