Author: R. Evan Ellis
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan- 320 pages
Book Review by: Paiso Jamakar

Books on China and Latin America are rare, especially on economic relations between that emergent superpower and that diverse continent, a neighbor of the largest economy in the world, the United States, with different cultures, languages, and races.

It may surprise most readers to know that China’s nominal gross domestic product was, according to the International Monetary Fund in 2013, larger than the total GDP of the 12 countries that comprise the South American continent.

China’s GDP was $9.181 trillion, compared to South America’s total $4.2 trillion. That made China’s total economic output nearly 118 percent more than that of the 12 South American countries. A year later, in 2014, China’s GDP increased to $10.355 trillion, and compared to  South America’s 5.31 trillion, was 101 percent higher. The gap had narrowed.

This book has received a lot of praise. One of the obvious reasons for its accolades by various scholars is its detailed collection of information. More than that, the author has a lot of insight on this subject which he shares with us, something not easily found in academic works.

Here is an observation by Robert Devlin of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS): “Evan’s book breaks important ground by comprehensively analyzing a new stage which has followed the boom in bilateral trade: the sudden recent rise in the physical presence of the PRC firms in the region and the opportunities and risks that this presents for China, host Latin American countries, and third parties like the U.S.”

Evans has written this entire book himself without contributory work from anyone. The range of topics being so extensive, as shown below in its Contents, is all the more extraordinary for the author to have tackled this task single handedly.

I. What Is Happening….What Is New About It

  1. Introduction
  2. Natural Resource Development – Petroleum, Mining and Agriculture
  3. Loan-Backed Construction – The New Model
  4. Retail Outlets, Distribution Networks, and Manufacturing Centers
  5. Commercial Service Offerings – Telecom, Electricity. Logistics, and Banking

II. China’s Emerging Struggles in Latin America

  1. Addressing the New Challenges
  2. The Struggle to Acquire Companies and Win Project Work in Latin America
  3. Day-to-Day Management Challenges Faced by Chinese Companies in Latin America
  4. The Question of Chinese Communities
  5. What It All Means

A huge amount of research has gone into developing this work. For the ten chapters, hundreds of sources of information were consulted by the author. The Notes section alone of this book towards the end is over 90 pages long.  This is followed by a 10-page Bibliography, and a 30-page Index.


REvan Ellis, PhD is a research professor of Latin American Studies at the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, with a research focus on the region’s relationships with China and other non-Western Hemisphere actors. His first book on this subject was China in Latin America: The Whats and Wherefores.