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Authors: Tasche, Thomas
Advisors: Meunier, Sophie
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2013
Abstract: Unlike other targets of China’s engagement around the world, the small, poor, and remote islands of the Caribbean lack the conventional economic attractions thought to explain global patterns of Chinese aid and investment. Despite their paucity of natural resources, purchasing power, and strategic value, China has emerged as a prominent source of both development assistance and overseas investment in the region since the 1990s. This thesis argues that China’s foray into the Caribbean is not motivated by familiar economic motives, but rather that foreign aid as well as foreign direct investment, carried out by firms under the influence of the Chinese state, are driven by distinctly geopolitical goals rooted in the unconventional assets of the Caribbean island nations—their sovereign rights, augmented by their proximity to the United States. Using a method of process tracing informed by interviews, press releases, and news wires, this thesis explores China’s goals in the Caribbean according to a sequence of past, present, and future to illustrate how aid and investment have effectively bought Beijing things like diplomatic recognition, influence in international institutions, and space in regional forums. Adding to a robust literature on Chinese foreign policy, this thesis contributes to a fuller understanding of the goals driving China’s global emergence, as well as the place China’s leaders see for their country in the world. The implications of the continued rise of Chinese aid and investment, and also migration, in the Caribbean are discussed, as well as the appropriate response of American foreign policy to China’s rising profile in a long-time U.S. sphere of influence. Where the United States is seen to have retreated from the Caribbean, China is seen to have advanced; meeting China on this nearby playing field presents an opportunity for American policymakers to work toward a cooperative relationship with China that can help build positive momentum in U.S.-China interactions, not only in the Caribbean but around the world.
Extent: 158 pages
Access Restrictions: Walk-in Access. This thesis can only be viewed on computer terminals at the Mudd Manuscript Library.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2016

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