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2015 events

The third party catalyst: the uncommon failings of the China-Colombia bilateral relationship and its unique avenues for success on the international stage

Research seminar
With Sabrina Mondschein van den Bos, SOAS
18 November 2015, 4-6pm
Room S-1.04, Strand Building, King's College London

**All welcome**

Abstract

The China-Colombia relationship began as any other between the PRC and the majority of Latin American states in the 21st century as bilateral trade went from zero to multi-billion dollars within a decade. However, despite its apparent successes, the bilateral relationship is largely a story of failure. What appeared to be glaring opportunities for Chinese investment and Colombian development have born little to no fruit. The China Development Bank failed to finance any significant project in a country with a crying need for infrastructure development, Chinese petroleum companies failed to win a single bid for the development of Colombian oil fields and talk of a bilateral Free Trade Agreement proved fruitless. In the wake of these failings, mutual distrust and prejudices abound. Colombia has become a Latin American anomaly for China. Nevertheless, several successes across sectors and industries have revealed that longstanding prejudices and distrust can be overcome with the inclusion of a third party. With every significant success in the China-Colombia bilateral relationship, a diplomat, businessperson or company from a third country has been involved, providing the means and making safe the path towards closer ties. Often, this third party has not been a neighbour of either country, making the case that greater international involvement--rather than regional cohesion--was the catalyst for success. 

About the speaker

Sabrina Mondschein van den Bos is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS. She holds a dual-master’s degree in Public Affairs from the London School of Economics and Political Science and in International Affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and a B.A. in Urban Studies from Barnard College. Her doctoral research explores the China-Colombia bilateral relationship. Fieldwork for her doctoral research in China has been supported by the French School of Asian Studies (École française d’Extrême-Orient) under the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research.

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