China's Diversification Strategy in Latin American and African Markets: Defense Software and Hardware Exports

Abstract: In the past two decades, China has become a strategic economic partner for both Latin American and African nations. China's economic global relevance is translating via its “Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)” into massive amounts of foreign trade, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), loans, and aid for both regions. Recently, China has added a national security and defense dimension to its BRI relationship with both regions. China's global strategic economic, geopolitical, and global defense goals are being expressed in its global “Road and Belt” power initiatives and strategies. This paper explores an additional dimension of China's BRI initiative: its role in both regions' defense industries and national security environments. China is increasingly using its trade and investment leverage with both regions to unbalance their defense choices and strategic defense relationships. China's increasing interactions with African and Latin American countries poses a number of geopolitical implications for both the United States and Western European countries.