China’s digital footprint has been expanding rapidly in Latin America in the last two decades. Neither the U.S.-China tech war nor the U.S.-led global campaign aimed at Chinese tech firms seemed to be able to reverse the trend. Much of the policy discussion in the western media surrounding China’s digital expansion focuses on the supply side, emphasizing the potential risks of adopting Chinese technologies. Yet there remains scant research on the demand side—namely, how policymakers in developing countries perceive Chinese tech firms and how they maneuver amid the intensifying rivalry between the U.S. and China.
Why did Chinese tech firms become key telecommunication equipment providers for Latin America despite geopolitical headwinds? To shed light on the issue, Dr. Jin (Julie) Zeng examines local stakeholders’ perceptions of Chinese tech firms and their choices between development and national security. Using Brazil as a case study, she argues that corporate strategies (emphasizing quality, prices, services, and financing), as well as the pragmatic approaches of regulators and internet service providers (ISPs) enable Chinese tech firms to expand market shares in Brazil. Instead of securitizing Chinese technologies, Brazilian regulators and ISPs have been eager to bridge the digital divide and benefit from the fierce competition among global tech firms.