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The fast-paced landing of China in Latin America raises the question of how such a complex relationship is being built from little previous contact. Focusing on Colombia's printed media, the article examines the construction of China's public image. A Janus-faced view of China is initially revealed: a growing power perceived as an auspicious trade partner on the one hand; a troubling new actor in the international context on the other. Further analysis shows shades of grey that reveal a multifaceted, continuously evolving image of China that tells us much about both countries. The depiction of China's rising power, whose direction and purpose suggest a paradigm of “modernity without enlightment,” brings light to Colombia's unsettled accounts with democracy and development. The article sets a launching pad for further research on such mutually constitutive relationships.
Ariel C. Armony is director of the University of Miami's Center for Latin American Studies, professor of international studies, and Weeks professor in Latin American studies. He has received grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Kellogg Foundation, and Fulbright Program for teaching and research in China. He has written extensively on such topics as civil society, democratization, human rights, and more recently, the role of China in Latin America.
* I would like to thank Nicolás Guillermo Velásquez for his research assistance. I appreciate the comments from Margaret Crahan, colleagues at the University of Miami's Political Science Department's Faculty Colloquium, and the participants at the conference “From the Great Wall to the New World: China and Latin America in the 21st century,” Asia Institute, UCLA, 15–16 April 2011.