China and the Caribbean in the 21st century

Project: Research

View graph of relations



Scholarly research has typically explained the development of the Caribbean as aregion through its economic and geopolitical ties with Europe, the Americas and theformer Soviet bloc. In recent years, China has emerged as an important economic andpolitical partner and competitor that may become decisive in shaping thedevelopmental trajectories of Caribbean countries and the lives of the 40 millionpeople who inhabit them. The growing relationship also renders the Caribbean avastly understudied laboratory to investigate the impacts of China as a newdevelopment partner, and the potential challenge that China poses to the dominantglobal order in the ‘backyard’ of the existing dominant liberal power. Therefore, theproject studies China’s impacts on the Caribbean through various channels ofinteraction, namely diplomacy, ideational influence, aid, trade, finance, andinvestment.The project is a long due exercise that seeks to break away from the previous (thoughstill relatively limited) research that explored China’s relations with the Caribbean asa mere footnote to China-Latin America studies (eg. Lederman et al. 2006, Rosales &Kuwayama 2012). We argue that the institutional variety and particularities ofCaribbean nations and their variegated engagements with China cannot be fullyunderstood through a Latin American lens. Instead, we propose a specific focus onCaribbean countries, among which we have preliminarily identified five major non-exclusionarytypes according to their relation with China: (i) exporters of naturalresources to China (Cuba, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago); (ii)recipients of significant direct investment from China (Bahamas, Cuba, Guyana,Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago); (iii) countries that have become importantbeneficiaries of Chinese aid and commercial loans (Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba,Dominica, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago); (iv) offshore financial centres that topranks of Chinese investment in the world (British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands);(v) and some of the few states in the world to still hold full diplomatic relations withTaiwan (Dominican Republic, Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincentand the Grenadines).Acknowledging local agency and variability, the project will design a typology of allthe countries in the region to later analyse the consequences of different interactions(or the lack of them) with China, as well as the aggregate impact. The typology willcontemplate: (i) nature of the ties with China; (ii) geopolitical and economic ties withother countries; (iii) regime types; (iv) institutional capacity; (v) economic policy; (vi)the position of individual countries in the global economy; and (vii) specific policyresponses to China’s impacts. The combined assessment of these elements throughanalysis of secondary data and interviews with key informants will provide the first indepth and wide-ranging study of the political economy of Sino-Caribbean relations.As such, it will not only help gauging the development impacts of China in the region,but also provide empirical data and theoretical arguments to contribute answeringimportant questions on whether and how China poses a challenge to the prevalentglobal liberal order.The project builds upon previous research experience from the two investigators, witha combined experience of 37 years researching China’s international relations,abundant fieldwork experience in Latin America, combined proficiency in all themain languages spoken in China and the Caribbean, and connections with regionalinstitutions in China and the Caribbean.


Project number9042278
Effective start/end date1/10/15 → …

    Research areas

  • China ,Caribbean,a€?Go Outa€? policy,Development,