The China Quarterly


Mapping Chinese Mining Investment in Latin America: Politics or Market?*

Ruben Gonzalez-Vicentea1

a1 University of Cambridge. Email:


Analyses of Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) sometimes question the investment criteria of Chinese firms, suggesting that market rules are not fundamental but secondary to political and geostrategic concerns. Questioning the apolitical nature of markets, the present article uses the internationalization of China's mining industry as a case study to ascertain the criteria that guide Chinese FDI. It first examines quantitative data from 2000 to 2010 which suggests that Chinese mining investment in Latin America and worldwide gravitates towards liberal economies. Second, by focusing on the projects of Chinese mining firms in Peru, the article illustrates how China's overseas mineral quest is best explained by probing into the integrated strategies of individual mining firms which seek to capitalize their comparative advantage in accessing Chinese markets and the political momentum of the “Going Out” strategy.


  • China;
  • mining;
  • foreign direct investment;
  • Latin America;
  • Peru

Ruben Gonzales-Vicente is a doctoral candidate at the University of Cambridge. His research focuses on the political economy of Chinese mining investment in Latin America. His theoretical work is also concerned with the internationalization of the Chinese state and Chinese businesses. His previous research has been published in The Pacific Review and Political Geography.


* I am grateful to the Research Centre of the University of the Pacific for the assistance provided during fieldwork in Peru. My doctoral research has been funded by the Caja Madrid Foundation and the Pedro Barrie de la Maza Foundation. A travel grant from the Universities’ China Committee in London and the Philip Lake and William Vaughan Lewis Funds from the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge supported fieldwork trips to China and Peru.