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The value of security cooperation in Sino–South American relations

Nicole Jenne (Institute of Political Science, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago, Chile)

Asian Education and Development Studies

ISSN: 2046-3162

Article publication date: 28 April 2020

Issue publication date: 18 June 2021




Relations between the People's Republic of China and Latin America have gradually expanded from commerce and finance to cover different aspects of security. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview over security cooperation between China and South America. Specifically, it analyses the motivations for security cooperation on both sides and its value added for Sino–South American relations.


The article describes four dimensions of security cooperation between China and South America: functional cooperation, defence diplomacy, long-term cooperation initiatives and arms sales. For each dimension of security cooperation, the main motivations on the two sides are discussed, together with the value added of security cooperation to the “comprehensive and cooperative partnership” China's policy papers on Latin America and the Caribbean have called for.


Security and defence considerations have not caused the development of Sino–South American security cooperation. Instead, it were the rapidly growing economic links from the 2000s on that facilitated China's broader political engagement with South America, including in the field of security. There are a number of important motivations that indicate security cooperation between China and South American states will further expand in the future.

Practical implications

Security cooperation should not only be practiced as an end in itself but also serve tangible outcomes to reduce insecurity.


In the context of Sino–Latin American relations, security cooperation has received relatively little attention beyond a comparatively small group of pundits despite the fact that military diplomacy has become increasingly important in bolstering China's growing international profile. This article makes an original contribution in discussing four dimensions of security cooperation between China and South America.



The author thanks Juliana González Jáuregui for detailed comments on an earlier version of the manuscript and gratefully acknowledges financial support to this project by the Chilean National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT), Programa Fondecyt de Iniciación (2017), Project No. 11170387.


Jenne, N. (2021), "The value of security cooperation in Sino–South American relations", Asian Education and Development Studies, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 433-444.



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