24th June 2024 – (Beijing) Peruvian President Dina Boluarte’s impending state visit to China, scheduled from 25th to 29th June, is poised to mark a significant milestone in the long-standing relationship between the two nations. The invitation extended by Chinese President Xi Jinping underscores the importance both countries place on their comprehensive strategic partnership. As Boluarte prepares to embark on this crucial diplomatic mission, experts anticipate that the visit will not only strengthen economic cooperation and political trust but also showcase Peru’s strategic autonomy in the face of mounting pressure from the United States.

The Peruvian president’s itinerary is packed with high-level meetings and business engagements across the cities of Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Beijing. In Shenzhen, Boluarte is set to meet with Huawei’s chairman Ren Zhengfei to sign an agreement on training professionals in cutting-edge information technologies, particularly artificial intelligence (AI). She will also hold discussions with Wang Chuanfu, chairman of BYD, to explore the possibility of establishing an electric car manufacturing plant in Peru. These meetings underscore Peru’s keen interest in leveraging Chinese expertise and investment to drive its own technological advancement and economic growth.

Shanghai will witness Boluarte’s meeting with the chairman of Cosco Shipping, the principal shareholder of the Chancay Megaport, a project slated for inauguration in November. This mega-project, dubbed the “gateway from South America to Asia,” has drawn the attention of the United States, with General Laura Richardson, commander of US Southern Command, expressing unease over the port’s strategic location and potential for military use. However, Chinese experts have dismissed such concerns, emphasising that the port will significantly reduce shipping time between China and Latin America, benefiting not only Peru but the entire continent.

The visit’s agenda also includes discussions on the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, which Peru will chair in 2024. China’s cooperation is seen as vital in advancing the summit’s agendas and achieving consensus. Moreover, the recently completed seventh round of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations between China and Peru is expected to further liberalise investment flows and stimulate bilateral trade.

Jiang Shixue, a professor at the Center for Latin American Studies at Shanghai University, believes that economic cooperation, especially in the digital and economic spheres, will be at the forefront of Boluarte’s visit. Meanwhile, Wang Youming, director of the Institute of Developing Countries at the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing, anticipates that the visit will elevate economic cooperation, political trust, and all-round exchanges between the two countries to new heights.

The Peruvian parliament’s approval of Boluarte’s visit to China, despite general public disapproval of presidential trips, demonstrates a unified recognition within Peru of the importance of collaborating with China. This move also signals Peru’s strategic autonomy in the face of pressure from Washington on Latin American countries to reduce ties with Beijing.

The United States has long regarded Latin America as its “backyard” and has been closely monitoring China’s growing influence in the region. However, China’s diplomatic efforts and the opportunities for cooperation it offers have brought substantial benefits to South American countries. This has allowed these nations to discern who their true friends are and who pose a threat to their interests.

As Boluarte embarks on her state visit to China, the world will be watching closely to see how this diplomatic engagement shapes the future of China-Peru relations and the broader geopolitical landscape of Latin America. The visit is expected to yield significant outcomes in terms of economic cooperation, political trust, and cultural exchange, further cementing the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two nations.

While the United States may view this deepening of ties with unease, Peru’s stance demonstrates that Latin American countries are increasingly asserting their strategic autonomy and pursuing partnerships that align with their national interests. As China continues to expand its influence in the region through diplomacy, trade, and investment, it remains to be seen how the United States will adapt its approach to maintain its historical influence in what it has long considered its “backyard.”