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.
Chinese firms are adapting to an ever-changing business environment as Central Asian leaders and citizens demand more local job creation, value-added industry, and opportunities for skills and advancement.
Chinese mining conglomerates sought to adapt to local conditions by forging alliances with the Ecuadorian national government. But these Chinese efforts to leverage local players undercut and divided Indigenous opposition in unsustainable ways that have backfired.
Chinese-funded railway projects in the Brazilian Amazon were profoundly shaped by dynamic institutional learning on both sides and sharp public debates in Brazil about environmental sustainability.
Despite public perceptions, Philippine ruling elites concerned with political expediency, not Chinese actors, are often the key culprits sidestepping social and environmental safeguards on infrastructure projects. Chinese players generally have accommodated these Philippine demands.
China has intensified its economic engagement with Pakistan by cultivating influential political elites. But the deeper story of Chinese inroads is the diversification of ties to local stakeholders, notably in the education, media, and energy sectors.
Many observers view Pakistan as a test case for China’s assertive overseas expansion plans. But sometimes, it is Chinese players who have had to adapt to Islamabad’s realities.
During the pandemic, Chinese medical and equipment supplies to Chile have come mostly from a diverse cast of Chinese players with local experience in Chile. They adapted to Chile’s unique system of emergency and disaster management.
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