What it’s about: In this article, Xinhua describes the economic relationship between China and LAC as jointly beneficial for both parties, mentioning specific examples where Chinese economic activity has benefited the region’s economies. For example, the article starts out by mentioning a new locomotive project in Argentina that was financed by Chinese companies and that has improved the country’s infrastructure connectivity. The article also highlights the recent series of events between China and LAC, such as the China-CELAC forum, most recently held in Santiago, Chile earlier this year. It also mentions the diplomatic recognition of the PRC by the Dominican Republic and Panama and attributes it to the increased economic activity between the respective parties. The article also brings in commentary made by Xulio Ríos, executive director of the Observatory of Chinese politics (a Spanish think-tank), who says that today, “only China can offer Latin America the possibility to develop much needed infrastructure, infrastructure that has been demanded by the region for years but which it has not had the capacity to develop over time.” Finally, the article includes a figure published in a 2017 ILO report on Chinese effects on the LAC labor sector that states that close to 1.8 million jobs in the region have been generated because of China over the last two decades.
What’s misleading about it: While this article correctly promotes China’s increased and well-documented engagement with the region, it describes the relationship exclusively from a pro-China perspective and essentially frames China as the best economic partner for LAC in the years to come. It makes no mention of important details that should also be taken into account when describing China’s economic engagement with the region, such as the country’s massive demand for commodities from the region in the first decade of the 21st century that spurred LAC exports, or the series of investments and loans that have concentrated around infrastructure and energy projects. As an example, although the article’s citation from the ILO’s 2017 report that found that China has created 1.7 million jobs (and that also includes several other figures that document positive effects of Chinese activity in the region) clearly supports the main argument, there is no mention that the jobs created were largely concentrated within three sectors (agriculture, mining, and trade) and that 1 million jobs were lost due to Chinese imports within the textile, footwear, and computer sectors, which arguably represent better avenues of development for the region’s economies.