China versus USA: the ‘technological cold war’ in Latin America

The ‘digital Silk Road’ refers to the technological dimension of the Belt & Road Initiative. Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, 5G, satellites and other modern technologies are relevant elements of Chinese cooperation with partner countries. As the cases of ZTE and Huawei show, the importance of this dimension cannot be understated, since it has become a central element in the ongoing wider rivalry between China and the US for global influence. Indeed, several analysts claim that we are facing a “new type of Cold War”, which has the potential to change the way we think about transnational technology companies and the future of the Internet.

Yet, we know little on how this struggle is playing out in different regions. In the case of Latin America, the internationalization of Chinese technological firms is already an important trend. Nonetheless, the predominance of US-based firms is also an undeniable fact; hence, Chinese technology firms face an up-hill battle for these markets, which casts doubt on US media narratives of alleged excessive and dangerous Chinese influence. Besides, countries and firms in the region are not passive player either, rather actors with agency that are replying to the risks and opportunities of this dynamic technological landscape.

In the midst of these tensions, this project aims:

  • to examine the new techno-political discourses shaping the so-called technological Cold War between US and China
  • to explore the contending media narratives on the extension of the digital Silk Road to Latin America
  • to investigate the agency of Latin American governments and firms in these disputes