Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2022

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Ralf Hepp, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Christopher Toulouse, Ph.D.


China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an ambitious program for development across the world. The BRI was rolled out in 2013 and includes bilateral trade agreements, infrastructure projects, and loan programs among other forms of investment and aid. While the examination of the economic success of the BRI is crucial, critically analyzing the larger implications of this initiative is pressing as well. Foreign policy is intricately tied to foreign investment and economic goals. China’s involvement in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) over the past two decades has been noteworthy for the rapid development of economic and diplomatic relations. The expansion of the BRI to LAC in 2017 is a clear indication of interests not only in resources and markets, but also in alliances and regional influence. In particular, Chinese investment can be attributed to shifting countries’ stances on Taiwan and votes in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Empirically testing for this relationship, as well as examining the development of these positions is crucial in assessing the full impact of the BRI in LAC. Additionally, it is important to simultaneously assess the growth of Chinese investment and influence as an alternative to U.S. hegemony in the region. With the examination of current foreign policy consequences, future reforms and possibilities of the BRI can be envisioned. The BRI is an expression of economic policy serving larger foreign policy goals. It is an approach that challenges conventional methods of foreign aid and investment, proposing potential opportunities for development as well as conflict.