China’s Risk Map in the South Atlantic
China faces increased risks to its nationals and investments abroad as it becomes more active internationally. In the South Atlantic, it faces what can be called a Risk Map that highlights China’s political risk exposure in financially and politically fragile states. Venezuela and Angola, which this paper explores as examples, figure prominently on the Risk Map. The backdrop is that China’s “going-out policy,” adopted in 2002 to encourage its companies to internationalize, has led to significantly greater exposure of its nationals, state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and finances to the whims of domestic politics and local unrest in foreign countries.
“Protecting nationals abroad” has become part of the official foreign policy priorities of China, yet the sheer number of Chinese nationals in unstable areas makes this a daunting task. The fate and well-being of millions of Chinese citizens abroad has also become part of the Chinese national interest, in part due to intense media and public scrutiny. There is now a tension in Chinese policy between the risk-averse government, which emphasizes non-interference, and the interests of risk-prone state-owned enterprises (SOEs) with large numbers of workers abroad. In short, it means that China is becoming more entangled in a messy geopolitical world.