Evan Ellis: China and El Salvador: An Update


China and El Salvador: An Update
By Evan Ellis

Evan Ellis

El Salvador’s recognition of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in August 2018 was the third such change
in Latin America following the end of the informal truce that had restrained the PRC’s diplomatic competition with Taiwan between 2008 and 2016. This pivot also precipitated expressions of concern from Washington, whose reaction to prior changes in diplomatic posture by the Varela government in Panama (June
2017) and the Medina government in the Dominican Republic (May 2018) had been more muted. Since
then, El Salvador’s experience with the PRC has been decidedly mixed, reflecting a combination of Central
American economies’ short-term limitations in boosting their exports to China, diplomatic pushback and
counterincentives from the United States, and the PRC’s failure to follow through on some of its promises—not to mention the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, which devastated the global economy and put projects on hold across the region.


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