Special Report—Colombia is arguably one of the countries in Latin America with the greatest potential to build a significant and profitable relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Despite the legacy of more than 60 years of violence and civil war, Colombia has a diverse modern economy with a large and well-educated urban middle class, political stability, and a functional business, financial, logistics and legal infrastructure.

Despite the mistaken image of Colombia as a dangerous and exotic criminal fiefdom, Colombians are justifiably proud of the level of economic and cultural sophistication of their country. In this context, a recurrent theme in my conversations with Colombian friends and colleagues was Chinese President Xi Jinping’s failure to include the country on the agenda during both his 2013 and 2014 trips to Latin America, despite visiting a number of states with whom China’s level of economic engagement is much smaller, including Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica, and Cuba.

For some, Xi’s neglect of Colombia tied into a range of perceived defects in how the nation had managed its economic and other relationships with the PRC, including lack of progress on a free trade agreement, the failure of its Minister of Agriculture to attend a key summit in Beijing in 2013, as well as not having provided a more welcoming environment for the sale of Chinese products or Chinese participation in Colombian public infrastructure projects. In the words of one distinguished colleague, “we love their money, but we hate them here.”

Indeed, for some of my colleagues, such signals were consistent with Colombia’s longer historical record of behavior toward the PRC, fighting against the Chinese communists in the Korean war, being among the last of the South American countries to diplomatically recognize the PRC (in 1980, a decade after Chile), and waiting another 25 years after diplomatic recognition before a Colombian president visited the country (the presidential visit to the PRC by Alvaro Uribe in 2005). For my colleagues with such views, contemporary policies by the Colombian government making it difficult for Chinese businessmen and workers to obtain visas, and for Chinese companies to win contracts, are but continuing manifestations of such mistreatment.

While such characterizations are partially correct, the decade I have spent following Chinese engagement across Latin America and the Caribbean leads me to believe that the challenges for Chinese diplomats and businessmen in Colombia pale in comparison to obstacles that their counterparts face in other countries of the region.

The PRC position in Colombia is well-established, and is making significant, if slow, progress.

From my analysis of trade and investment statistics and specific Chinese projects in Colombia, and from my conversations with businessmen, academics, and other colleagues there, I am led to the conclusion that the PRC position in Colombia is well-established, and is making significant, if slow, progress, despite the persistence of important obstacles and disappointments for the Chinese.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Sino-Colombian bilateral trade reached $10.5 billion in 2013, up 11.3 percent over the previous year and twenty times its level just a decade earlier. In 2000, Colombia exported more to 34 other nations than it exported to the PRC, and imported more from 14 other countries than it imported from the PRC. By 2012, China had become the second largest destination for both Colombian exports and imports, behind only the United States.

On the Colombian side, a small but important number of companies have made progress in penetrating the Chinese market, principally leveraging the Colombian “brand” to sell high-end luxury goods to the PRC. Prominent examples include the well-known chain of Juan Valdez coffee houses, the leather and footwear company Velez, the clothing and leather company Totto, and the ceramics company Corona.

The national trade promotion organization ProExport is also regarded as reasonably effective in helping Colombians do business with China, with offices in Beijing and Shanghai, now coordinated with counterpart organizations ProChile, PromPeru, and ProMexico under auspices of the Pacific Alliance, and with a new office slated to open in the Chinese riverport city of Guangzhou. Nonetheless, Colombians with whom I spoke noted that ProExport has a very limited number of people and resources to effectively promote the Colombian brand image. For Colombians, work of ProChile in promoting goods of its nation in the PRC, such as wines and cherries, is held up as the example to which to aspire.

Chinese Companies in Colombia

With respect to Colombia itself, according to the Sino-Colombian Chamber of Commerce in Bogota,[1] there are currently 35 Chinese companies doing business in the country, of which 10 are members of the Chamber (up from two in 2013). Attention to Colombia in the PRC itself also appears to be expanding, with two reporters from the Chinese news agency Xinhua permanently stationed in the country since 2012.

One of the sectors in which the Chinese presence in Colombia has most visibly advanced has been telecommunications. There, the Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE have both made significant advances in the Colombian market, although Huawei has advanced more than ZTE. Both have also made significant progress putting a local face on their operations. Thanks to their successes in selling cell phones and data devices to the Colombian market, and in winning contracts to build 3-G and 4-G telephone infrastructure in the country, in recent years, both Huawei and ZTE have both expanded into large, modern office buildings in Bogota. Huawei reportedly employs approximately 500 people in the Colombian capital, of which 80 are Chinese.

The Chinese company Lenovo also has a significant presence in Colombia, based largely on its computer and electronics sales, although the company, previously the personal computer division of IBM, reportedly does not employ a single Chinese citizen in its offices in Colombia.

In the media sector, representatives from a Chinese television company reportedly came to Bogota in 2014 with an interest in acquiring Colombian radio, television and newspaper companies. According to a Colombian source, the company indicated that it had $2.5 billion available to spend for such purchases—an enormous sum, given that one of Colombia’s principal media outlets, RCN, is only valued at approximately $750 million.

With respect to consumer goods such as autos and motorcycles, Chinese Companies have not only expanded sales in Colombia, but have established manufacturing facilities there, in conjunction with local partners. Examples include the motorcycle brands Jialing with an assembly plant in Cali, Jincheng in Barranquilla, and AKT with a facility in Medellin. In the automotive sector, Chinese brands Great Wall, Lifan and Chery, BYD, and Foton light trucks have entered the country, represented by Colombian companies and business groups such as Cinascar, Corbeta, and Praco Didacol, with Chinese cars reportedly capturing 15 percent of the Colombian market. In addition to its AKT assembly facility in Medellin, the Corbeta group is currently completing a facility for Chinese Foton light trucks in the northern outskirts of Bogota.

Yet another sector in which Chinese companies have established a significant presence in recent years is petroleum, led by Emerald Energy, acquired by the Chinese company Sinochem in 2008. The second important Chinese presence in the country is Mansroavar, formed in 2006 when the Chinese company CNPC, and the Indian company ONGC Videsh combined forces to acquire the U.S. company Omimex. The operations of Mansroavar are concentrated in the middle Magdalena region of Colombia, although according to one Colombian oil industry expert with whom I spoke, the Chinese ownership of the company is almost not perceived due to its Indian management team and employment of local personnel.

Chinese petroleum service firms such as Kerui and CPEB engineering have also expanded their presence in Colombia in recent years. Nonetheless, according to industry experts with whom I spoke, the strong position that Western petroleum service companies such as Halliburton have in the country has made it difficult for Chinese firms to diversify their business beyond support to Chinese companies.

By contrast to the petroleum industry, Chinese companies have not established a significant presence to date in the Colombian mining sector. One impediment, according to mining experts to whom I spoke in Colombia, is the high cost of moving Colombian minerals such as coal and nickel from the northeast of country where they are concentrated, to the Pacific coast for shipment to China. Nonetheless, Colombian infrastructure investment connecting the eastern region to the coast in the future, including long contemplated rail projects connecting mining areas to the Pacific coast, could change such investment calculus.

In The Spotlight

Despite such difficulties, there is evidence that some Chinese mining investment is occurring, although not registered as Chinese per se. In one case brought to my attention during my trip, a Colombian investor, backed by a Chinese partner, acquired a gold mine in the Valle del Cauca with the intention to bring in engineers and equipment from the PRC to develop the project.

Agriculture Sector

Beyond mining, Chinese investors have begun to look to Colombia as a source of foodstuffs, although their success in establishing a presence in the sector has been limited. Reportedly in 2008, Chinese investors were pursuing the acquisition of land in the Colombian departments of Guaviare, Caquetá, Meta, Cauca, Valle del Cauca, and Nariño. The kidnapping of three Chinese nationals in the area in 2011, however, gave pause to the Chinese investors. Moreover, in that same year, Colombian senator Jorge Robledo brought national attention to the acquisition of land by foreigners in large parcels, unleashing a scandal which effectively froze Chinese land acquisitions in the region

Legal reforms are currently being contemplated, such as a 99-year lease that could overcome such difficulties. For the moment, however, Chinese investors appear to be pursuing an alternative strategy similar to what they have pursued in other countries in the region where their attempts to acquire agricultural land have been similarly blocked: buying companies with established networks for acquiring agricultural products for shipment to the PRC. In keeping with this approach, in 2014, China’s principle food importing organization, China Overseas Food Corporation (COFCO), reportedly begun talks for the acquisition of the Colombian meat company Zenu, as well as a fishmeal company in Barranquilla.

Infrastructure Projects

One Colombian sector which has been both a key business focus for Chinese construction companies, and an important factor for Chinese trade with the country, is infrastructure.

Important Chinese construction companies such as Sinohydro, Hydrochina, and China Railway and Bridge have sought to compete for major infrastructure projects in Colombia. Indeed, when Colombia’s president Santos went to China in May 2012, he invited his Chinese colleagues to participate in the public bidding for major upcoming Chinese infrastructure projects. Unfortunately for the Chinese, however, to date the attempts by Chinese companies to win such work have been markedly unsuccessful.

The best prospect for a Chinese company to do infrastructure work in Colombia was a contract let by the Colombian government for a series of dams and other water management projects on the nation’s most famous national waterway, the Magdalena river. The Chinese company Hydrochina was selected, and successfully performed the front-end technical study for the work. It was believed to be the leading candidate to win the much larger contract to do the construction work, but in August 2014, the project was awarded to the Brazilian firm Odebrecht.

In a similar fashion, in 2010, the Chinese company Sinohydro lost its bid to participate in the hydroelectric project in Antioquia Hydroituango, when the public authority administering the project, Empresas Publicas, eventually deciding not to contract the project out, but to execute it internally, in coordination with the regional government of Antioquia.

One of the few examples of a Chinese firm actually contracted for work on an electricity generation facility in Colombia is a $250 million contract for the construction of the GECELCA III coal-fired power plant in Córdoba, which included a contract to China United Engineering Corporation (ChinaCUC).

In the area of road construction, of the nine highway projects contemplated under Colombia’s “Highways to prosperity” initiative, none have included a role for Chinese companies. Part of the problem has been the difficulty for the Chinese companies in translating and responding to the complex requirements for such projects under Colombia’s laws, including Public Law 1508 for public-private partnerships.

Despite such difficulties, an expert in Colombian law interviewed for this study suggested that an as-of-yet unexploited option for Chinese companies in the country may be to pursue projects under provisions of an agreement signed between the Colombian and Chinese government and ratified by the Colombian congress, permitting direct government-to-government projects involving Chinese firms. Whatever the legality of such an approach, however, it is not clear whether it would be politically feasible in Colombia.

Beyond highways, other projects with potential participation by Chinese companies have been mentioned in the public discourse. These include the 2011 announcement by Colombian President Santos that the government and Chinese investors were in talks regarding construction of a “dry canal” rail connection between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the country.

Many in the U.S. believed that mention of the project by President Santos was designed to influence debate in the U.S. congress regarding approval of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, and the project has not resurfaced since that time. More recently, Colombian businessmen have spoken of the construction of high speed rail connection between Bogota and Medellin, presumably with the work done wholly or in part by Chinese firms, but to date, the project has not advanced beyond the conceptual stage.

With respect to airports, in 2008, the Chinese Group China Airport Holdings, in conjunction with a Colombian partner, was awarded a concession to administer and develop six airports around Medellin operating under the name AirPlan, including the city’s main international airport, Rio Negro. Although the project has gone forward successfully, the concession reportedly experienced difficulties with Chinese equipment acquired as part of $160 million infrastructure investment made as part of the concession, forcing the replacement of the equipment with that from other suppliers.

Beyond projects granted to Chinese companies, in the year since I last visited Colombia, the country appears to have made some progress with respect to its principal physical impediment to expanding trade with the nations of Asia: the lack of an adequate port infrastructure, associated roads and other links for transporting products between the Pacific coast and other parts of the country in a cost-effective fashion. As one Colombian colleague in the logistics sector noted, the cost of transporting a standard cargo container of goods by ship from China to Colombia’s Pacific coast is less than the cost to transport that container from the port across the country.

With respect to Colombia’s principal Pacific-coast port of Buenaventura, the number of operational piers in the main cargo terminal of Buenaventura has been expanded to 14, and a new computerized system for managing ships and their cargo has been implemented. In addition to that terminal and the separate TCBuen cargo terminal which opened in 2010, a third facility, Aguadulce, with a $180 million investment from Philippine and Hong Kong based companies, is scheduled to open soon.

Beyond those three, an even larger project on the northwest side of the bay, Aguadulce, is reportedly in the works, while a Chinese company, China Road and Bridge, is reportedly positioning itself to build a facility in Buenaventura. As a compliment to this expansion of container capacity, the channel providing access into the port is being dredged from a previous depth of 9 meters, to a target depth of 14 meters, expanding the number of ships that can use the port. Beyond the port itself, progress has also been made in improving the highway connecting the port to the interior of Colombia.

Beyond improvements to the port of Buenaventura and infrastructure connecting it to the interior, even more ambitious and potentially transformational projects are in the works. As this paper went to press, a study for a new 200 kilometer free trade zone and development project to the north of Buenaventura was being delivered to Colombian President Santos. Although prospects for the project are unclear, it would essentially create a major new Colombian city on the Pacific coast, with a special tax and regulatory environment to attract investment in a new cluster of Asia-oriented logistics, manufacturing and technology activities similar to a project currently being pursued near Guayaquil, in neighboring Ecuador.

A number of obstacles also exist to the renovation of Colombia’s Pacific Coast infrastructure. Despite significant progress, the highway connecting Buenaventura to the interior of the country remains incomplete. The city itself remains a center of criminal activity so dilapidated and dangerous that the major shipping companies prefer to locate their personnel in the nearby city of Cali, or in the capital, Bogota.

Alternate port sites to the north of Buenaventura such as the bay of Malaga cannot be developed because of environmental restrictions (The latter is a spawning ground for whales, and as such, has been designated a national park where port development is prohibited). Finally, the possibility of developing the port of Tumaco, south of Buenaventura, into a major commercial port is impeded by a combination of poor infrastructure connecting the port to the rest of the country, relatively shallow waters, storm exposure, and the operation of guerillas and criminal groups in the area.[2]

Intellectual Infrastructure

The base of China studies and language programs in Colombia supporting the expansion of business ties with the PRC has advanced significantly in recent years. Colombia currently has three Confucius institutes for the study of Chinese language and culture, supported by the PRC government organization for the global promotion of Chinese language and culture, Hanban. These are located in EAFIT University in Medellin, in the University of the Andes and the Jorge Tadeo University in Bogota.

New Confucius Institutes are also in the process of opening in the University of Cartagena, and the University of the North, in Barranquilla. In addition, Hanban-affiliated Confucius “classrooms,” for instruction in Mandarin Chinese at the secondary school level are present in two prestigious private schools in Bogota: Vermont, on the north side of town, and Nueva Granada (ironically, one of the private schools most frequented by the children of U.S. embassy personnel). Both business and social science-oriented programs for the study of China are also expanding in universities across the country.

EAFIT, previously mentioned, is opening a new Center for Pacific Studies as part of their international business program (in addition to the social sciences oriented EAFIT Center for Asian Studies, one of the first programs of its kind in the country). In Cali, both the Jesuit Javeriana University and the private university ICESI are looking to establish Asia-Pacific centers and “Observatories” for following Chinese business and other activities in the country. Indeed, in Bogota, such an observatory currently exists in Jorge Tadeo University. Other important China studies programs also now exist within prestigious private universities such as Externado, CESA, and Rosario University, as well as in the National University.

Chinese-Colombia business engagement is also supported by the activities of the two previously mentioned China-Colombia Chambers of Commerce, as well as the China-Colombia friendship society. The later was established in 1974 to promote the establishment of diplomatic ties, although in recent years, it has principally served as a type of networking organization which promotes Sino-Colombian cultural ties.

China-Colombia intellectual ties are also advancing at the sub-national level, including activities to help the Chinese better understand Colombia. During my visit to Bogota, for example, I became aware of an agreement being negotiated between the Chinese city of Xianning, in the province of Hubei, and its sister city in the Colombian department of Bucaramanga, in which the Colombians will support Spanish language instruction in Xianning, as well as the strengthening of subnational ties in other areas.

Challenges for Chinese Companies

As with their Western counterparts, Chinese companies operating in Colombia have faced significant problems from extortion and other activities by criminal and terrorist groups. The best-known case was the June 2011 kidnapping of three Chinese, working for the oil sector subcontractor Great Wall Drilling, which was supporting the operations of the Chinese-owned company Emerald Energy in Caquetá. Less known is that in the 18 months prior to the kidnapping, Emerald had received an ongoing series of threats against its operations, as well as more than two dozen attacks against its trucks, drilling rigs, and operations.

Nor have security challenges for Chinese companies in Colombia been limited to field operations. In Bogotá, Chinese employees of the telecommunications Huawei were victims of an express kidnapping while eating lunch in an affluent area just several blocks from their company’s Colombia headquarters facility. In confronting such challenges, as with their Western counterparts, the Chinese have reportedly both contracted with private security companies, and have collaborated with Colombian authorities through programs such as the nation’s “Road and Energy Battalions.” Such difficulties have also contributed to the image of Colombia in China as a dangerous, if exotic land, with more warnings about Colombia put out by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Commerce than for any other country in the region.

In many of my conversations with Colombian colleagues, I also perceived a subtle yet discernable decrease in enthusiasm for the deepening of Colombia’s commercial engagement with China and Colombia’s role in the Pacific Alliance. Many with whom I spoke believe that the Sino-Colombian Free Trade Agreement is no longer on track, with one noting that even China’s very capable ambassador to Colombia Wang Xiaoyuan (who was assigned to Colombia following his success as ambassador to Costa Rica in shepherding a Free Trade Agreement between the PRC and that country), no longer appears to invest significant effort in promoting the matter in Colombia.

In addition, despite official enthusiasm for the Pacific Alliance as Colombia’s key strategic project for engaging with Asia, I heard grumbling from multiple sources about whether the concept of the alliance currently being sold by the Colombian government (such as exporting fruit to Chile for transformation into processed goods exported to China under the Chile-China FTA), is truly the best manner for Colombia to achieve value added for its industry.

Sino-Colombian Defense Collaboration and Arms Sales

During my time in Colombia, I also had the opportunity to speak to Colombian counterparts regarding arms sales and collaboration on defense issues. Like many of its Latin American counterparts, Colombia regularly sends small numbers of officers to the Chinese Army and Navy command and general staff colleges in Nanjing, as well as to the Chinese National Defense University for the preparation of general officers, in Changping (northern Beijing).

Reciprocally, Colombia is one of the few Latin American countries to train Chinese officers, with at least 50 PLA officers passing through programs in the Colombian military base at Tolemaida during the previous year. The PLA shows particular interest in training in areas such as anti-kidnapping and special operations, as well as the Colombian military’s well-known “Lanceros” course.

With respect to military sales, for at least a decade the PRC has supplied Colombia with small quantities of non-lethal goods such as gloves and hats for its high-mountain battalions. More recently, it has provided mobile bridging equipment, as well as the donation of Y-12 military aircraft for the Colombian airline Satena.

On a less positive note, for years the Colombian army has found Chinese arms and equipment in the course of combatting units of the terrorist/insurgent organization Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios de Colombia (FARC), and has reportedly intercepted shipments of such arms coming into Colombian ports such as Buenaventura, although evidence of direct complicity of Chinese arms companies in such sales has not been established. Perhaps the most famous case is the sale of 4,000 Chinese arms by the Chinese company Norinco to the Colombian narcotrafficker Javier Antonio Calle Serna (alias “comba”), with destination to the FARC, using the forgery of the signature of then Colombian Commander and Chief General Freddy Padilla. The Colombians reportedly learned of the transaction when General Padilla was touring the NORINCO facility and the Norinco President expressed his personal thanks for General Padilla’s purchase of the arms.

To some degree, China’s military engagement also involves a degree of competition with the United States as Colombia’s “security partner of choice.” In 2013, according to Colombian colleagues, when the United States indicated to its Colombian counterparts that it might need to cut $50 million from the budget for military assistance to Colombia, China as well as Russia offered to step-in to fill the breach. On that occasion, the Colombian government did not take either of the two suitors up on their offer.

China-Colombia Criminal Ties

Anecdotal evidence suggests that Colombia plays a modest, yet non-trivial role in expanding trans-pacific organized crime ties, including the smuggling of Chinese immigrants through the region to the United States and Canada, the importation of precursor chemicals from China and India for the production of cocaine and synthetic drugs, and the export of small quantities of drugs to Chinese port cities such as Shanghai. Indeed, Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, which moves drugs to Asia, is believed to have a presence in Buenaventura, while at least six Colombians are currently in Chinese prisons on drug trafficking charges.

The U.S. is distracted from what is occurring in Colombia by the Ebola crisis, events in the Ukraine, and the campaign against the terrorist group ISIS.

While the small size of the Chinese immigrant community in Colombia may have limited the presence of Chinese organized crime groups in the country, during my visit, colleagues in the security sector mentioned rumors of a small presence by Chinese “triads” in Buenaventura, among other items of concern. Yet however limited the scale of Chinese organized crime in Colombia, it was also clear during my visit that Colombian authorities, overwhelmed by the challenges of other criminal groups, are not oriented to detecting and combatting such threats.

While the Colombian national police maintains a close cooperation with Interpol, and has small number of persons trained to speak mandarin Chinese, for example, my Colombian colleagues in the security sector indicated that there is no capability within the Colombian police to speak Cantonese or Hakka, the dialects more common among Chinese criminal groups operating in the region.

Another troubling question for which there is more speculation than evidence is whether, in the wake of security challenges faced by Chinese companies in Colombia, the PRC has sought to establish or maintain contacts with criminal groups that impact the operating environment of those companies. Were such ties to exist, a tempting connection for the Chinese would be the use of now demobilized members of the group Ejército Popular de Liberación (EPL), founded in 1966 in the revolutionary China of Mao Zedong. Key members of the Urabeños, currently the dominant criminal band in Colombia, are descendants of EPL fighters, with family connection through the Úsuga clan.

Asia-Colombia-US Strategic Issues

As a U.S. citizen working in the security sector, I also reflected upon my conversations with Colombian colleagues from the perspective of how the events and changes that we discussed impact the strategic environment of the region and its relationship to the U.S. A key theme for me in this regard is the important role that Colombia continues to play as a strategic nexus between Asia, the United States, and the rest of the region.

Many of those with whom I spoke suggested that a re-orientation of the Colombian government is taking place under President Santos, to diversify away from the perceived excessive concentration on the United States as an ally under his predecessor, and toward the reintegration of Colombia with the rest of the region through the avoidance of diplomatic quarrels with Colombia’s neighbors, as well as more robust Colombian participation in institutions such as UNASUR (in which former Colombian president Ernesto Samper is currently head).

While better relations with its neighbors and greater integration with the region is certainly positive for Colombia, a significant turn away from the United States would dramatically change the U.S. strategic position in the region. In economic terms, Colombia has been one of the strongest advocates for an economic environment defined by free trade, respect for private property and the rule of law. It has been an anchor state in the Pacific alliance which advocates such values. However imperfect the Colombian system, the nation has been an advocate for competitive public procurement in an era in which its ALBA and Caribbean neighbors have shown an increasing proclivity toward negotiating less transparent state-to-state contracts with the Chinese. While Colombia may be one of the principal sources of cocaine and a nexus of organized crime in the region, it is also one of the nations which has most closely cooperated with the U.S. in law enforcement matters, at a time when neighbors such as Venezuela and Ecuador have gone in a different direction. Moreover, Colombia is a test case for the rest of the region regarding what a state can achieve in terms of both economic development and security through working with the U.S. Currently that key U.S. ally is surrounded by four states with a very different vision, and who would like to see Colombia move in a very different direction: Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Cuba.

The U.S., for its part, is also distracted from what is occurring in Colombia and its relationship with the PRC — by the Ebola crisis, by events in the Ukraine, and by the campaign against the terrorist group ISIS. Yet despite such pressing events elsewhere in the world, and despite the scale-down of U.S. engagement with Colombia due to its improved security situation and U.S. budget deficits, Colombia remains fundamental to the U.S. strategic position in South America. A Colombia which does not succeed, and which turns away from that model would significantly change the balance of political forces in the hemisphere and its relation to the U.S.

Footnotes: 1. Technically there is a second Sino-Colombian Chamber of Commerce, technically established prior to the official one, although several Colombian colleagues with whom I spoke argued that the older chamber was more of a consulting organization, with some even noting that it has been accused of money laundering. 2. Despite such factors, investors from neighboring Ecuador have reportedly expressed interest in the development of the port.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s, and do not necessarily represent those of his institution or the U.S. government.
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Evan Ellis
About The Author Evan Ellis [Full Bio]
Dr. R. Evan Ellis is Research Professor with the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute and author of over 80 works on Latin American security issues, including his new book, "China on the Ground in Latin America.”




China on the Ground in Latin America


Talkback (1)

  • Guest (Oleg Timofeev)

    Permalink

    Very fruitful piece on relations between China and Colombia.
    But I find some deficit of more generalized picture of Colombia's role in China's Asia Pacific and Latin America strategy. The point is that China's key partners in the region - Brazil and Venezuela - are located on the eastern shore of the continent. That's why Hong Kong company Hutchison Whampoa purchased some facilities of Panama Canal in the 90th and nowadays China's HKND Group is planning to build Nicaragua Canal. I think that long-time planned pipelines from Venezuela to Colombia's Pacific shore would boost bilateral ties between Beijing and Bogota.
    Another obstacle is Bogota's own lack of enthusiasm in maintaining its Pacific strategy. It isn't a party not only of APEC but also of TPP.

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