Submission Date


Document Type




Second Department

International Relations


Rebecca Evans

Second Adviser

Glenda Chao

Committee Member

Chisu Teresa Ko

Committee Member

Glenda Chao

Department Chair

Rebecca Evans

Department Chair

Susanna Throop

External Reviewer

Abigail Coplin

Distinguished Honors

This paper has met the requirements for Distinguished Honors.

Project Description

This research attempts to understand the evolving relationship between China, the United States, and Latin America. Specifically, it explores China’s rapid rise as a formidable geopolitical power, the United States’ mixed response to that rise, and efforts by two Latin American countries, Ecuador and Argentina, to avoid exploitation by both China and the United States—and, indeed, to even benefit from this mutating relationship. In all cases, historically constructed ideas and strategic interests shape relations among these various actors. Accordingly, this research lays out the historical sources for each of these powers’ central ideas. Then, it connects those ideas to the current strategies employed by both China and the United States to promote their military, economic, political, and cultural power. Meanwhile, this research uses two case studies—Ecuador and Argentina—to explore to what extent states have attempted to use investment and trade with China through the Belt and Road Initiative to increase economic growth and expand political autonomy. Ultimately, this analysis informs our understanding of geopolitics, clarifies the role of historic memory in international relations, and lays the groundwork for further research related to the BRI’s understudied role in Latin America.