China's investments in the economic development of countries in the Global South have been substantial over the past decade. However, recent developments suggest that China's ambitions extend beyond mere economic influence, expanding into the geopolitical arena. This shift not only impacts the developing nations benefiting from China's investments but also holds implications for the United States and other developed democracies, as highlighted by a scholar at the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame.
Joshua Eisenman, an associate professor of politics at the Keough School, emphasizes that while the rivalry between China and the U.S. is significant, it's only a part of the larger narrative. Eisenman's research delves into China's economic and geopolitical strategies across the Global South, encompassing Southeast Asia, South Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.
A forthcoming panel discussion titled "China in the Global South: Development and Influence in a Shifting Global Order," to be held at the Atlantic Council on Feb. 21-22 in Washington, D.C., will feature insights from Eisenman and other Notre Dame scholars. The event aims to explore China's role in the Global South, gathering experts from various sectors including government agencies, think tanks, and academia.
Recent geopolitical maneuvers by China underscore its expanding ambitions. Notably, China's alignment with countries such as Brazil, India, Pakistan, and South Africa amidst the Israel-Gaza conflict demonstrates its growing influence. Additionally, China's mediation between Saudi Arabia and Iran in 2023, following years of hostility, showcases its broader geopolitical interests beyond Africa, a region historically significant for Chinese investment.
Eisenman points out a shift in China's engagement strategies, particularly emphasizing political and security collaborations with Global South counterparts. As China's interactions extend beyond economic realms, Eisenman stresses the importance of understanding and monitoring these developments.
To address emerging trends, the Keough School's Pulte Institute for Global Development and the Atlantic Council have initiated the China-Global South Initiative. This collaborative effort seeks to analyze China's strategic intentions and impacts in the Global South, fostering dialogue among policymakers, academics, and local stakeholders. The initiative aims to produce scholarly publications, convene expert discussions, and provide mentorship opportunities for students and experts from the Global South.
The forthcoming Atlantic Council event, supported by the China-Global South Initiative, promises to be a significant platform for discourse. With participation from top officials and experts from various Global South nations, the event aims to generate insights crucial for both research and policymaking.
Eisenman's expertise, demonstrated through publications like "China’s Relations with Africa: A New Era of Strategic Engagement" (Columbia University Press, 2023), underscores the need for nuanced understanding in navigating China's evolving role in the Global South.
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Originally published by Renée LaReau at keough.nd.edu on Feb. 8.