A Mexican state dinner for Chinese President Xi Jinping, held by former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
“This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.”
China-Mexico relations date back to 1972, when Mexico broke diplomatic ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan). For much of Mexico’s recent history, however, its economic and diplomatic relations have been dominated by its neighbor to the north. While its relationship with Mexico pales in comparison to that of the United States, China’s presence in Mexico continues to grow.[i] As noted in the excerpted article from business-focused Mexican daily El Economista, 2023 marks the tenth anniversary of the China-Mexico “comprehensive strategic partnership,” the highest form of partnership China maintains with foreign countries and one of seven such relationships in the Latin America region. The “comprehensive strategic partnership” category implies the full pursuit of cooperation and development on regional and international affairs. As noted in the article, China’s direct investment in Mexico grew 18 percent in 2022.[ii] Yet, the relationship goes beyond trade and investment. At a reception for Chinese Culture Day, Zhang Run, China’s Ambassador to Mexico, said China has a desire to strengthen its ties to Mexico and push together toward a multipolar world and the “democratization” of international affairs. Indeed, more recent controversies in the bilateral relationship have not managed to knock it off course. China’s role in producing chemical precursors for fentanyl, which have come to major public attention in recent years, has not damaged its ties to Mexico. President López Obrador insists that Mexico does not produce fentanyl but simply transits the finished product through the country to the United States after it arrives from China. López Obrador has sought help from the Chinese, according to Spanish daily El País. The outlet reported that China’s Foreign Ministry responded by proclaiming that there is no fentanyl trafficking between China and Mexico.[iii] While China-Mexico ties must be understood in the context of U.S.-Mexico relations, which continue to dominate Mexico’s orientation, China’s increased ties to Mexico have economic, diplomatic, and security implications for the operational environment, especially under López Obrador, who wants to build a buffer between Mexico and the United States by leveraging ties to China.
“China ve potencial en la relación con México (China sees potential in relations with Mexico),” El Economista (a Mexican newspaper focused on business and economics), 15 April 2023. https://www.eleconomista.com.mx/internacionales/China-ve-potencial-en-la-relacion-con-Mexico-20230415-0017.html
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries…Mexico and China have potential in exchange and cooperation in various areas such as culture, education, and tourism. In addition, the two countries are closely linked in the global industrial and supply chains, while direct investment from the Asian country to Mexico increased 18% in 2022.
“López Obrador insiste en que México no produce fentanilo y afirma que llega de China(López Obrador insists that Mexico does not produce fentanyl and that it arrives from China),” El País (the Spanish newspaper with hemispheric coverage), 5 May 2023. https://elpais.com/mexico/2023-05-05/lopez-obrador-insiste-en-que-mexico-no-produce-fentanilo-y-afirma-que-llega-de-china-tenemos-pruebas.htmlLópez Obrador affirmed that the shipment, intercepted this week in the port of Lázaro Cárdenas, is the latest evidence that the substance [fentanyl] is not produced in the country, but that it arrives finished to be sold in the U.S. market. “We already have proof,” said the president at a press conference. López Obrador announced that he will send a new letter to request the cooperation of the Xi Jinping government in the fight against drugs to identify suspicious shipments and prevent them from leaving Asia.
[i] For a more comprehensive history of Mexico’s ties to China, see: “The Evolution of PRC Engagement in Mexico,” Global Americans, 24 August 2022. https://theglobalamericans.org/2022/08/the-evolution-of-prc-engagement-in-mexico/
[ii] For more information on China’s expansion of investment in Mexico, see: “Why Chinese Companies are Investing Billions in Mexico,” New York Times, 3 February 2023. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/03/business/china-mexico-trade.html
[iii] For information on how cartels use social media to market and sell their product, see: Ryan Berg, “Latin America’s Cartels Embrace Social Media to Sell Drugs and Narco Culture,” OE Watch, 01-2021. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/380363
Image: A Mexican state dinner for Chinese President Xi Jinping, held by former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Attribution: Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 2.0