# Geopolítica

Ecuador’s Leveraging of China to Pursue an Alternative Political and Development Path

This paper examines Ecuador’s use of financing, commerce with, and investment from the People’s Republic China (PRC) in its pursuit of a path independent of the United States and traditional Western institutions. The work details significant Chinese engagement with the country in the political, economic, and military arenas. It finds important differences in the dynamics and progress of Chinese companies in different sectors, as well as numerous challenges for Chinese companies, including both legal challenges to past contracts, as well as political mobilization against construction and extractive sector projects. Ecuador’s engagement with the PRC is compared to and contrasted with patterns of engagement between the PRC and two other ALBA countries: Venezuela and Bolivia. In all cases, populist elites changed the political system and accountability mechanisms, and isolated their country from traditional commercial partners in ways that helped Chinese investors to reach deals that personally benefitted the populist elites and the PRC-based companies at the expense of the country. The work concludes by examining the prospects for the evolution of the relationship under the country’s new leadership. In the literature on interactions between the People’s Republic of China and Latin America, the PRC relationship with Ecuador has received relatively little attention outside Ecuador itself.1 Among the countries of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of the Americas (ALBA), scholars  Have principally focused on the PRC relationship with Venezuela. Ecuador, like other members of ALBA, was until recently headed by a relatively anti-US leader (Rafael Correa) who borrowed significant amounts of money from the PRC, secured by exports of petroleum, to obtain resources for a political course independent of the United States and traditional Western institutions such as the International Monetary Fund. Yet while Ecuador’s relationship with the PRC shares characteristics of China’s relationship with Venezuela and other ALBA countries, it also stands out from those other cases in important ways. Ecuador is both one of the countries with the highest rates of Chinese loans on a per capita basis, and one of the first in the region in which a PRC-based company made a significant investment of its own resources to operate in the country, with the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC)-led Andes coalition in 2005.2 Ecuador is further one of the countries in which Chinese companies operating on the ground have encountered the most violent resistance, with significant incidents against Chinese-owned oilfields in Tarapoa in 20063 and protests in Dayuma in 2007.4 Ecuadorans have also mounted significant mobilizations against Chinese mining projects in Zamora Chinchipe beginning in March 20125 and continuing with actions against the San Carlos-Panantza mining project in December 2016,6 and against the Rio Blanco mine in 2018,7 among others. Unique to other ALBA regimes, the Ecuadoran government once suspended the negotiations over a major hydroelectric facility (Coca Codo Sinclair) hydroelectric facility, drove the Hong Kong-based logistics giant Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. to abandon its concession to operate and develop the port of Manta, and cancelled the contract of a major Chinese defense contractor, CETC, only to have that company sue the country for over $200 million dollars, even while it continued to purchase defense products from the PRC. Ecuador is, in addition, the only ALBA state to date to peacefully deviate from a radical populist course. Indeed, when Lenin Moreno, Correa’s hand-picked successor elected to the presidency, departed so much from the policies Correa expected that the latter formed a new movement to fight against the direction in which Moreno was taking the country.8 Unique among the ALBA regimes, Moreno’s new policy direction has included expanded scrutiny of contracts with PRC-based companies and the renegotiation of prior petroleum and credit agreements, coupled with the selection of relatively Pro-West cabinet officials in key Ministries such as Foreign Affairs, Economy and Finance and Defense (among others) and a reapproachment with traditional Western investors and lending institutions such as the International Monetary Fund.9 The Ecuadoran case thus offers potentially important insights, both for the PRC and for other ALBA governments potentially transitioning to alternative regimes in the future. This paper provides such an analysis, both examining the Ecuadoran case in detail, and looking at the similarities and differences between Ecuador and other ALBA regimes with whom the PRC has had close relations, particularly Venezuela and Bolivia.


As the PRC expanded its commercial ties with Latin America in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Ecuador’s relationship with the Asian giant principally involved limited but growing trade and
investment deals with the conservative Guayaquil-centered business elite, as well as the modest Chinese-Ecuadoran community, whose leaders had business ties to the PRC. The election of Rafael Correa in November 2006 arguably re-oriented the Ecuador-China relationship and its key players. Initially, the rewriting of the nation’s constitutional framework through a constituent assembly from 2007 to 2008, and the 2009 renegotiation of royalty payments for oil operations10 initially impaired the growth of new Chinese commitments. Nonetheless, the Correa administration’s interest in using PRC-based companies and financing as an alternative to Western institutions for developing the country, in combination with Ecuador’s  self-exclusion from traditional financial markets through its 2008 default on $3.2 billion in loans drove a rapid expansion of commitments to Chinese projects across multiple sectors, from petroleum, to logistics, to hydroelectric power, to telecommunications. Chinese companies and banks increased their willingness to pursue such projects once the new “rules of the game of the Correa administration appeared to have been established. That engagement was managed and led by a group of left-oriented Correa allies in the Ecuadoran government, including Foreign Minister Maria Espinoza and her successor Ricardo Patiño, and Vice-President Jorge Glas.11 The projects that these figures advanced with Chinese companies drew them into alliances of mutual profit with pragmatic Ecuadoran business figures such as Pablo Campana, son-in-law of business magnate Isabel Noboa.12 By 2014, there were 70 Chinese companies operating in the country,13 and by 2018, Chinese banks had provided the regime with $19 billion in financing through 16 separate loans.14 The rapidity of the Chinese advance, in combination with sensitivities to abuses by extractive industries in Ecuador (particularly among indigenous and other local groups directly affected by such activities), contributed to a significant number of problems for the Chinese projects, delaying or sidetracking many, even while the Correa government was lending strong support to the relationship as a whole. Early problems included previously mentioned problems in Tarapoa in November 2006 and Dayuma in 2007, a fight with Hutchison-Whampoa over the management of the port of Manta that compelled the company to withdraw from the concession, and a dispute over the terms of Ecuador’s first major Chinese-built hydroelectric project, Coca Codo Sinclair, that led to an unusually strong reproach of the Chinese by President Correa himself and the suspension of negotiations for four months, and major protests that forced a three-year delay in the Mirador open-pit mining project, granted under Ecuador’s new mining laws. Difficulties in guaranteeing supplies of oil not committed elsewhere for a proposed new refinery proposed in Manabí made Chinese investors hesitant to back that project when the Venezuela’ oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PdVSA) failed to produce the funds to take it forward.15 As with the previously noted changes in the policy and legal frameworks with President Correa’s 2006 election and Constituent Assembly, lesser, but still important changes made by his successor Lenin Moreno gave Chinese companies and the PRC government further cause for concern. These included a national referendum in February 2018 which put some new restrictions on petroleum and mining activities (areas of significant interest for Chinese investors), and which allowed Moreno to change leadership of the powerful “Council for Citizen Participation and Social Control,” with the authority to hire and fire judicial officials. It also included an initiative by the new Hydrocarbons minister Carlos Perez to renegotiate the terms of China-Ecuador petroleum agreements, and the initiation of investigations of improprieties involving Chinese loans, petroleum contracts, and other agreements by both the new Ecuadoran Comptroller nGeneral Pablo Celi,16 and the new Attorney General Paúl Perez.17

Patterns of Engagement

Ecuador’s engagement with the PRC in some ways resembles that of fellow ALBA states, as well as other countries in Latin America. Ecuador stands out from those peers, however, in the relatively large number of Chinese projects relative to the country’s modest size, and the amount of pushback from mobilized indigenous, community, and other interest groups, delaying or cancelling many of those activities, and obligating the deployment of security forces on numerous occasions. Politically, the PRC made significant progress through Ecuador’s turn to the left and associated self-imposed isolation from Western finance and investors, including a key 2008 loan default which made Chinese banks one of the country’s few sources of financing.18 In commerce, both Chinese purchases and equity investments concentrated in extractive sectors, particularly petroleum and mining, while loan-based infrastructure projects concentrated in hydroelectric power generation, some road and facilities construction, and initially, in ports and refinery work. The infrastructure projects in particular would in principal, expand PRC access to Ecuadoran resources, while facilitating Chinese access to Ecuadoran markets. As with many Latin American and other countries trading with the PRC, Ecuador sought to expand exports of its traditional products to the PRC, such as coffee and fruit, with limited success.19 For its part, the PRC progressively expanded sales of products to Ecuador across a broad range of goods from motorcycles to autos to heavy equipment and consumer electronics. In the military realm, Ecuador was relatively ahead of its Latin American peers in the purchase or lease of mid-grade Chinese military equipment, from light transport aircraft to radars, to trucks, other military vehicles, and small arms, but as in its commercial dealings with China, did not shy away from engaging in public disputes with the Chinese when such goods did not meet expectations, such as the purchase of radars from the Chinese firm CETC, detailed below. Arguably the most important characteristic of the Ecuador-PRC interaction, an attribute that it shares with other ALBA regimes,20 is the manner in which political changes, including centralization and the weakening of checks and balances,21 combined with economic isolation to allow Chinese companies to capture Ecuadoran elites in questionable deals that benefitted the Chinese companies and arguably the elites involved in the deals,22 often at the expense of the country.

Diplomatic Engagement

Ecuador has maintained a relatively limited high-level official relationship with the PRC since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1980. Left-oriented Ecuadoran President Rafael
Correa, who came to power in 2007, made his first state visit to the PRC in January 2015, in conjunction with the summit between the PRC and the nations of  Commerce. The trade balance between the PRC and Ecuador has been significantly and continuously in China’s favor, with the $3.1 billion in goods that the PRC sold to Ecuador in 2016 approximately four times the $785 million in goods that Ecuador sold to the PRC during the same period.27 In addition to the sheer magnitude of Ecuador’s trade deficit with the PRC, as in many other countries in the region, most of Ecuador’s exports to China are primary products, including deliveries of oil by Petroecuador to repay loans for projects performed by PRC-based companies.28 By comparison, the PRC only purchases modest quantities of traditional Ecuadoran goods such as coffee, cacao and fruits.29 On the other hand, China exports an ever wider array of highvalue added goods to the Ecuadoran market, from motorcycles, autos, and consumer electronics, as PRC-based companies and local partners and importers, become increasingly sophisticated in dealing with the Ecuadoran market.
Petroleum Ecuador’s oil sector was the first target of major Chinese investment, with a consortium led by China National Petroleum company (Andes) acquiring Canadian company EnCana in 2005 for $1.42 billion.30 Chinese companies currently control over 25% of Ecuadoran oil production on the ground, but per contracts using oil to repay loans to the Ecuadoran state, have a claim on almost all Ecuadorian oil deliveries for export through 2024. Chinese companies are among those competing for new Ecuadoran oil concessions to be auctioned in 2018.31 Multiple Chinese petroleum service companies including Changqing Petroleum Exploration Bureau and Kerui Petroleum have also followed the larger PRC-based State Owned Enterprises such as China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) into the country. Chinese oil companies, among others, have also been limited in their expansion in Ecuador by restrictions on exploration and development in terrain believed to contain significant amounts of petroleum underlying the Yasuni national parkland, although the PRC-based company Sinopec was contracted by the Ecuadoran state petroleum organization Petroamazonas for exploration activities in the limits of the Yasuni wildlife refuge.32 In January 2016, the Ecuador government licensed CNPC and China Chemicals and Petroleum Corporation to explore a block bordering Yasuni.33 The February 2018 passage of a referendum by the incoming Moreno government contains a provision expanding the amount of national parkland protected from oil development,34 yet does not appear to impact oilfields currently under development, or areas were targeted for future exploration based on the possibility of containing significant oil.35 Due arguably in part to the rapidity with which Chinese companies entered Ecuador’s oil sector, and the sensitivities of indigenous and other parts of the Ecuadoran population to the environmental impacts of petroleum operations,36 PRC-based companies ran into multiple early problems as they expanded their operations in the Ecuadoran amazon, including activists taking control of an Andes-owned oilfield in Tarapoa in November 2006, and protests against the Chinese company Petroriental in Orellana in 2007,37 prompting then president Rafael Correa to declare a state of emergency in the province and deploy the armed forces.38 In the refining sector, reflecting the high costs and deficiencies in Ecuador’s refining complex at Esmeraldas, various Chinese companies, including CNPC and Sinomach,39 have considered funding the Refinery of the Pacific, for processing Ecuador’s relatively heavy crude, a project worth as much a $12 billion.40 To date, the project has not gone forward, although as much as $1 billion has been spent on the effort for site,41 for studies and the acquisition of land, as well as the preparation of the site.42 Petroleum sector analysts suggest the project does not make sense due to local seismic instability, elevated costs relative to alternative refineries, and the need to construct significant additional infrastructure not included in the base price of the project, including new pipelines,  storage facilities, and a petroleum products export terminal.43 Nonetheless, the Moreno government continues to express some interest in taking the project forward. As noted previously, oil deliveries has also been used to secure loans granted by Chinese policy
banks, including funding for major infrastructure projects such as the construction of hydroelectric facilities. The terms of the concessions, using linked but separate contracts for the loan, and the associated oil deliveries that repay them, are similar to those employed in Venezuela, and have similarly been criticized for their terms44 and the dependency relationship that they facilitate on the PRC.45 Beginning with the first oil-backed loan deal in 2010 to fund the construction of the hydroelectric facility Coca Codo Sinclair, through 2017, Chinese banks have supplied an estimated
$19 billion to Ecuador through 16 lines of credit,46 obligating the Ecuadoran government to commit 90% of its oil exports to the PRC to service the loan payments.47 From 2017 through 2018, the incoming government of Lenin Moreno, its Hydrocarbons minister Carlos Perez, and its Comptroller Pablo Celi investigated the terms of petroleum and  associated financing contracts signed between the Chinese and the Correa government,48 and in May 2018, Hydrocarbons minister Carlos Perez arrived at an agreement with the Chinese for some modifications to the agreement,49 although significantly less than what some activists believed necessary.50


Ecuador’s approval of a new mining law in January 2009,51 and subsequent refinements in 2012, opened the door to an expansion of interest by PRC-based mining companies in exploiting the
long-dormant sector. Those advances included the Chinese company Tongling’s December 2009 acquisition of the Canadian mining company Corriente, with an important presence in Ecuador.52 Soon thereafter, the new owners announced their intentions to invest in a series of mining projects in the Zamora-Chinchipe region. Yet environmental sensitivities in the areas to be exploited generated a significant backlash, initially focused on the first of the announced major projects, the open-pit mine project Mirador,53 including a national march against the proposed project in March 2012, led by the indigenous-rights group CONAIE.54 Although the government delayed approval of the project, obliging the new owners to perform a series of environmental impact assessments. In May 2014, as the project prepared to transition to the next stage, 150 protesting workers occupied the site.55 In June 2015, opponents launched further protests, including in front of the Chinese embassy in Quito,56 and in September 2015 protesters occupied the mine site, producing a violent confrontation with police.57 Like Tongling, the Rio Blanco mine, near Cuenca, operated by the Chinese company Junefield, has also been the focus of protests, including two in 2018, forcing the temporary suspension of operations at the mine.58 In June 2018, questions of compliance with environmental regulations led the Ecuadoran governments to temporarily suspend the project.59 Protests have also occurred at the San Carlos-Panantza copper mine, owned by the PRC-based firm ExplorCobres, including an incident in December 2016 which resulted in a death and multiple injuries, and prompting the government to declare a state of emergency in the province of Morona Santiago where the mine is located.60


Chinese construction companies have been very active in Ecuador, principally in building hydroelectric facilities as part of a wave of infrastructure investment promoted by the government of Rafael Correa, and funded (as noted previously) by oil-backed loans from Chinese banks. Yet virtually all of these projects have encountered difficulties which have delayed their progress. With the exception of the $900 million 487 MW Sopladora facility built by China Ghezouba  Group,61 and Coca Codo Sinclair (which is in the process of addressing serious defects identified
in an audit of the project),62 none have been completed. As noted previously, the first and largest of the Chinese hydroelectric projects was Coca Codo Sinclair, a $2.25 billion facility designed to generate 1.5 GW of electricity (30% of the needs of the entire country), with $1.682B financed by China Export-Import Bank.63 From the beginning, the project was mired in controversy, with then President Correa suspending negotiations over the project for several months, publicly reproaching the Chinese for demanding sovereign guarantees for debt repayment, and accusing them of being more demanding than the Western lending institutions such as the International Monetary Fund.64 The project was also mired by a serious accident in December 2013, killing 13 workers.65 Although the facility was formally inaugurated66 during the November 2016 visit to Ecuador of Chinese President Xi Jinping,67 as noted previously, Ecuadoran authorities continue to address multiple defects identified in the work. Other major Chinese hydroelectric projects in various stages of completion include the $506 million Minas San Francisco project, the $100 million, 96 MW Termoesmereldas II (both contracted to the Chinese firm Harbin Electric),68 the 115 MW $206 million Delsitansagua project (contracted to Hydrochina), and the $240.4 million 1.12 GW Toachi-Pilaton facility. The later was contracted to China Water and Electric, with a role for the Russian firm RAO, after being taken from Odebrecht.69 Some of the most notable problems associated with these projects include February 2015, when China Water and Electric, was fined $3.25 million by the Ecuadoran government in conjunction with its work on the Toachi-Pilaton project for non-compliance with its work schedule and violations of workplace and safety regulations.70 Similarly, China National Electric Equipment Corporation, responsible for the $51 million 21 MW Mazar Dudas facility,71 and the 50 MW Quijos plant, has had problems with both projects, and was removed from the later in January 2016 by the Ecuadoran government for non-compliance with the established schedule.72 In July 2014 three Chinese workers were killed in Delsitanisagua by flooding of the Zamora River73 (which ironically would have been managed by the completed dam). Beyond just hydroelectric facilities, the Chinese firm Tiesijiu was awarded a $52 million contract for the construction of a dam in Chone, but then had the government revoke its contract in June 2013, due to delays and problems arising from protests by the local community there.74  In other electricity projects, a PRC-based firm was involved in constructing the $34 million

Perhaps the biggest failed construction project of the Correa presidency involving (although not exclusively) Chinese companies, was the planned university/technology city “Ciudad del Conocemiento” (city of knowledge) in the northern city of Yachay, Partially funded in 2016 through a $198.2 million loan from China Export-Import bank, with contemplated investment in the site by Chinese companies such as JAC Automotive, which indicated intentions to build an automotive assembly facility there. The project was ultimately sunk by a combination of the failure of the anticipated investment to materialize, plus poor structuring of the project,82 including water and sewage infrastructure which was not completed by the Chinese contractor Ghezouba in time to support the buildings. As Yachay was delayed and scaled back, even the handful of firms located to the site began to pull out.83 Yet other construction projects reportedly include a $55.6 million contract to the Chinese firms CAMC Engineering, Gezhouba and Hydrochina to change the course of the Bulubulu, Cañar and Naranjal rivers.84 Perhaps the Chinese construction project in Ecuador with the best prospect for success is the Posorja port project, on the southern Pacific coast, awarded in June 2016 to DP World. DP World and its Ecuadoran partner Isabel Noboa,85 has contracted China Harbor Engineering Corporation to do the work, potentially valued at $1 billion.86


As with most other countries in Latin America, with the exception of exports of bananas and shrimp, Ecuador has had limited success in selling its traditional agricultural products to the PRC. As in other parts of the region, the cost of transporting perishable Ecuadoran agricultural products over long distances to the PRC (typically in refrigerated shipping containers, or by air), increases the price in ways that undercut the competitiveness of Ecuadoran goods against alternatives located closer to China in countries such as the Philippines. Nor has Ecuador been able to establish the strong brand identity to make Chinese consumers willing to pay a premium for its products as the Chileans have done in marketing their cherries, table grapes and other fruits in the PRC. For Ecuador, the most significant successes in exporting agricultural products to the PRC have occurred with bananas and shrimp. With respect to bananas, 26% of Chinese imports come from Ecuador,87 which compete with closer suppliers such as the Philippines. In 2014, shipments of Ecuadoran bananas to the PRC expanded when demand and prices in China took off relative to
an inflexible supply from the Philippines whose own ability to expand its sales to the PRC is limited by relatively inflexible long term contracts.88 The other exception was the takeoff of Ecuadoran shrimp exports to the PRC and other Asian markets, to $362 million, in 2016, when the shrimp population in Asian waters was decimated by disease in 2016.89 Chinese investments in Ecuador itself have been limited by the lack of large tracts of land usable to grow crops of the type, and in quantities of interest to Chinese markets. Nonetheless, during recent years, private Chinese investors have explored small-scale projects in the country, including investments in the shrimp industry in the province of Manabí, and in African palm tree plantations in the vicinity of Santo Domingo for the production of palm oil.90


Chinese consumer goods have been imported into Ecuador principally by multinational firms or Latin American partners, who have sold them through their own distribution networks. Examples include Chinese motorcycles marketed under the brands Shineray and AKT,91 as well as various brands of Chinese cars. In 2017, for example, Ecuador’s Maresa group added the Chinese car brand Chery to its repertoire.92 Beyond retail sales and distribution, by contrast to countries such as Mexico and Brazil, Ecuador’s relatively small market and the limited potential for selling manufactured goods to other countries in the region has arguably limited incentives for Chinese and other companies to locate manufacturing operations there. Nonetheless, in recent years, a handful of Chinese investors have considered small scale operations in the country. In 2016, for example, the auto manufacturer JAC proposed a $3 million investment for an assembly facility for SUVs associated with the previously mentioned “City of Knowledge” project in Yachay.93 The project failed to materialize, however, when the Yachay project itself fell apart.94


Ecuador’s geographic position on the Pacific with important markets to both the north and south, in combination with a relatively functional government, good infrastructure, and low rates of insecurity, give the country potential value as a logistics hub for trade between Asia and south America (although every other country in South America with a Pacific coast, particularly
Chile and Peru, arguably have similar aspirations). For many years, Ecuador’s ability to realize its potential as such a hub was limited by the nature of its principal Pacific Coast port in Guayaquil,
located substantially upstream along the Guayas River. That position limited the size of ships that could use the port, and implied significant continuous dredging costs, were the facility to accommodate the new generation of very large container and bulk cargo ships transiting the Pacific by increasing its channel depth. In 2006, the Ecuadoran government sought to overcome the limitations of Guayaquil as the country’s principal Pacific coast port by giving a concession to the Hong Kong based company Hutchison Whampoa to operate and develop Manta, a natural deep-water port to the northwest of Guayaquil on the Pacific coast. The vision included making Manta into a multi-modal transportation hub, with road and railway links to the Ecuadoran amazon.95 In February 2009, an ongoing dispute between Hutchison and the Ecuadoran government regarding the concession holder’s obligation to invest in improving the port and the government’s corresponding responsibility to invest in enabling infrastructure drove Hutchison to withdraw from the concession,96 sidelining the development of the port, and by extension, the associated
logistics corridor. Despite the setback, PRC-based firms continued to maintain a modest presence in Ecuador’s logistics sector. The Chinese shipping company COSCO, for example, used the private port of Fertisa, owned by Grupo Wong, and principally employed for the export of bananas.97 Currently, the role of PRC-based companies in the Ecuadoran port sector is poised to take off
with the development of the new port of Posorja in the south of the country; the Concession owner DP World and their local partner Isabel Noboa98 have contracted China Harbor to do a significant portion of the port construction work,99 with other opportunities for Chinese construction and shipping companies likely to follow.


Little noticed outside the region, PRC-based firms have been remarkably active in Ecuador’s technology sector. The telecommunications firms Huawei and ZTE have captured a major portion of the Ecuadorian market for telephones and communications components. Huawei has become an important contractor for the national telecommunications firm Corporacion Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (CNT).100 In the space sector, although eclipsed by Chinese work with Brazil, Venezuela and Bolivia,101 in 2013, the Chinese launched a microsatellite for Ecuador. It was, unfortunately damaged by space debris shortly after being put into orbit.102 As noted previously, Chinese companies have also been contracted to build Ecuador’s “Ciudad de Concimiento” in Yachay, which (if it does eventually go forward, even in a reduced-scale) will include not only physical construction work for Chinese companies, but supporting technology infrastructure provided by them, as Ecuador’s first “city of knowledge.” 103 More menacing than telecommunications and smart cities, in 2011, China National Electronics Import and Export Corporation (CEIEC) was contracted to construct the national emergency response system ECU-911. Although superficially represented as a system for responding to accidents,104 in reality it is a public security system modeled on those used for public surveillance and control in the PRC, including cameras with facial recognition technology, two national command and control centers, five regional centers, and eight provincial centers.105 In April 2014, the Ecuadoran government let a second contract to the Chinese for ECU-911, for $42.6 million in services in support of the operation of the centers. In November 2016, the Centers started operating in Cuenca, Quito, and Guayaquil.106


Ecuador has purchased a number of Chinese military systems in recent years, including a 2009 negotiation to acquire two MA-60 military transport aircraft.107 In the same year, it also signed a
$60 million contract with the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) for the acquisition of YLC-2V long range and YLC-18 mobile radars, which it intended to deploy principally in strategic locations in the north of the country. The Ecuadoran military subsequently entered into a contractual dispute with the Chinese provider regarding the unsuitability of the equipment and its inability to integrate the systems into the national surveillance and response architecture. CETC eventually agreed to construct a cyber-defense system as part of its remediation of the dispute, yet attempts to resolve the disagreement were unsuccessful and in 2013, CETC brought a lawsuit against the Ecuadoran government seeking $280 million, almost five times the value of the original contract.108 Despite the dispute with CETC, Ecuador continued to acquire equipment from Chinese military vendors. In July 2015, for example, the government purchased 709 military land vehicles, mostly by Sinotruk, in a contract worth $81 million, including 226 4×4 trucks, 93 6×6 vehicles, 18 water tankers, 20 gasoline tanker trucks, 62 other vehicles, plus associated parts.109 In 2016, Ecuador’s military took delivery on 10,000 Ak-47 rifles from the PRC,110 as well as a small number of patrol boats. Beyond arms sales, as with many other Latin American and Caribbean militaries, personal from Ecuador’s military have regularly gone to study in Chinese military institutions, as part of various courses (although the content is seen as having only incidental relevance to Ecuador, which continues to rely principally on US and European doctrine). For its part, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has sent instructors to Ecuador’s Armed Forces University.111 There are also periodic institutional visits by the PLA to Ecuadoran institutions and vice versa.112


Ecuador has made strides in developing its knowledge about the PRC to support its commercial and other engagement, yet Ecuadorans in general perceive that, for most academics and businessmen, knowledge about China is relatively limited.113 Leading institutions such as FLACSO University in Quito, and ESPOL in Guayaquil have professors conducting research and offering courses about the PRC, but not initially degree programs in China studies per se.114 The only Masters-level China studies program in Ecuador is reportedly at the Instituto de Altos Estudios Nacionales (IAN), initially established as a university for strategic level military education under the military government of Juan Velasquez Alvarado, but transformed into a civilian school, principally for government bureaucrats, during the Correa administration.115 Although various universities and institutes in Ecuador offer Chinese language programs, the University of San Francisco outside Quito was the first to offer a China-studies program, although oriented more toward Chinese culture than business. It was also the first (and to date, the only) university in Ecuador to establish a Confucius institute for study of the Chinese language and culture using instructors officially sanctioned and sponsored by the Chinese government.116

Comparisons and Contrasts with Bolivarian Alliance

Ecuador’s path bears both similarities to and contrasts with other ALBA countries. As noted in the previous section, as in Venezuela and Bolivia, most of China’s imports from Ecuador have
concentrated in the extractive sectors, and in particular, oil and mining, while proceeds have been used to support loan-financed infrastructure projects done by Chinese companies. Ecuador has concentrated a relatively greater portion of its work projects in the PRC on re-orienting its energy matrix toward hydroelectric power, although Chinese work with Bolivia also includes
a mixture of hydroelectric facilities, road construction and other projects.117 The pattern of commercial engagement which most clearly emerges in comparing Ecuador to Venezuela and Bolivia is a destructive combination of populist elites coming to power in a manner that centralized power, including public contracting, while weakening transparency and checks and balances by the political opposition. In all of the countries, these changes opened the door for Chinese companies and the PRC government, operating under different ethical rules than their Western counterparts, to capture new populist elites in need of their cash, producing deals that were “win-win” for the Chinese companies and financial interests of the populist elites, but ultimately, not for the countries. In comparing the patterns of Chinese engagement with Ecuador to that of Venezuela and Bolivia, each newly elected populist regimes initially reached out to the PRC and was met positively but cautiously. In each case, the relationship then passed through periods of political turmoil in which the Chinese became more cautious, before moving forward with the relationship
as they gained comfort with the new legal and political framework for interaction. In this sense, the period of Ecuador’s revising of oil royalties and the broader legal framework via the 2007-
2008 constituent assembly may be compared to the period in Venezuela from the 1999 revision of that nation’s constitution, through the 2003 end of the Venezuelan general strike, and to Bolivia’s 2007-2008 period of constitutional dispute with the lowland (medio luna) states. In the case of Ecuador, the populist government of Rafael Correa inherited a uniquely strong
Chinese presence on the ground in the oil sector, by comparison to the more modest CNPC presence in Venezuela when Hugo Chavez came to power, and almost no commercial presence in Bolivia when Evo Morales came to power there. In Ecuador, from the beginning of the Correa administration, the government had both a framework from the presence of the Andes consortium, plus the example of loans-for-oil contracts being established by China in Venezuela. In mining, the Ecuadoran government opened up the sector to the Chinese (and other) mining investors as soon as it had revised the legal framework for the sector, and the Chinese expressed an almost immediate interest in investing, as seen by the acquisition of the mining company Corriente by the Chinese firm Tongling. This early focus on mining in Ecuador contrasts to Venezuela, where petroleum investment always overshadowed mining. In the case of Venezuela, whose transition to Bolivarian populism occurred earlier, the political struggle and consolidation of populist rule was more drawn out, affecting the parallel advance of the Chinese position; it was not until 2007, almost a decade after Venezuela’s populist leader Hugo Chavez took power, that the PRC established the first tranche of loans with the Venezuelan government, in return for petroleum from oilfields over which it had been given control.118 In Bolivia, although the government had conversations with Chinese companies about mining and oil concessions from the outset of the Morales regime (and to some extent prior to it), the granting of highway and hydroelectric construction projects did not expand in earnest until almost seven years after the government’s implementation of a new constitutional order and the resolution of challenges against it.119 The level of violent resistance generated by Chinese companies commencing operations on national territory has varied significantly between Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela (particularly in the extractive sectors, and with respect to construction projects). Among these three, the highest level of public social resistance appears to have occurred in Ecuador, with violent protests that produced states of emergency in Orellana in 2007 and in Morona Santiago in December 2016, among other challenges. In Bolivia, if mentions of incidents in news stories is a guide, there appear to have been relatively fewer protests against projects by communities against Chinese projects, and more protests by workers on projects being run by Chinese companies.120 In Venezuela, it is not clear whether there have actually been fewer incidents of violence against Chinese projects and operations than in Ecuador, but it appears that certainly fewer highprofile national incidents have been publicized. While the reasons for these differences are unclear, hypotheses worth exploring include that Venezuela’s populist government achieved relatively greater control over the means of communication than that of Ecuador, and more completely organized or suppressed civil society to its own ends (e.g. Through the “collectivos,”), whereas under the Correa regime in Ecuador, the opposition continued to have some space to communicate and mobilize. A second, complimentary explanation worth exploring is that Ecuadoran communities are more oriented to mobilization against Chinese and other outside interests than are their Venezuelan counterparts. Ecuadoran community and indigenous groups, sensitized to the contamination of lands by foreign multinationals, may have been particularly disposed to oppose the incoming Chinese companies, which could often manage community relations in an insensitive fashion, whereas in Bolivia, where mining in particular had long been a reality throughout the country, communities had become more resigned but workforces more radicalized. In Venezuela, by contrast, there were arguably fewer indigenous groups in the Orinoco belt where the new petroleum operations were occurring, a more relaxed political culture, and arguably less sense in Venezuela that political intervention could make a difference.

Prospects for Change under the Moreno Administration

President Moreno has pursued Ecuador’s gradual reconciliation with the United States and the West, and by extension, less of an impulse to use the PRC as a vehicle for maintaining political and economic independence from them. His Hydrocarbons minister has renegotiated contracts with China in a fashion that, while less ambitious than hoped for, are a step in a new direction. The commitments by his Attorney General Paúl Perez, and his Comptroller General Pablo Celi to investigate the administrative and possibly criminal dimensions of past contracts with PRC-based companies121 highlight a new willingness to increase oversight over deals with China, in the interest of the country. Aside from such symbolic gestures, President Moreno has also, to a degree, signaled an interest in continuity in the relationship with the PRC, including a possible November 2018 trip to China. With the exception of temporarily halting the Rio Blanco mining project on environmental compliance issues, his government has not taken significant legal action against PRC-based companies, nor moved to block them from bidding on projects and contracts. Even the successful February 2018 referendum, which expanded limits on some petroleum and mining activities, neither explicitly targets Chinese companies, nor significantly impacts their ongoing ope-
rations or areas in which they appear to be interested. Projects with Chinese firms appear to be going forward without interruption in the construction sector (including $1 billion of work for
China Harbour on Posorja), in telecommunications (Huawei contracts with CNT). If anything, President Moreno seems to be pursuing a relationship with China that seeks better terms through greater transparency and oversight, and the development of alternatives with Western institutions, such as the Inter-American Development Bank,122 Ecuador’s ability to rebuild a relationship with the United States and Western institutions,123 and the degree to which that rapprochement pays off for Ecuador on trade and other issues,124 will likely condition how receptive Ecuador is to PRC requests to “bend its rules” to attract Chinese investment and other forms of support.


This study is preliminary, but serves to highlight the value of examining China’s relationships with other populist socialist regimes. The analysis herein is largely anecdotal, highlighting the
need for better, more objectively comparable information on key dynamics and behaviors involving the Chinese government and its companies, including investments, incidents of social protest, and government policies. Key questions for future work include: “why do Chinese companies succeed more in some populist countries in the region than in others,” and “why do some populist regimes do better than others in leveraging Chinese resources against the temptations of corruption and bad deals?” The political path being followed by Ecuador under Lenin Moreno is arguably the first instance of a country formally part of ALBA transitioning from a path of populist socialism heavily financed by the PRC, with associated issues of corruption and questionable contracts, to an alternative trajectory.125 Ecuador thus offers important insights for both the PRC, and those in the hemisphere observing the PRC’s behavior, regarding the dynamics and pitfalls of that transition, and how the PRC responds if its economic and other equities are questioned by the new regime. q


1. Hundreds of scholarly works have been produced on the subject since the mid-2000s. Some of the most prominent include A. Catalinac, S. Cesarin, J. Corrales, J. Dominguez, S. R. Golob, A. Kennedy, A. Liebman, M. Mussacchio-Farias, J. Resende-Santos, and R. Russell, China’s Relations with Latin America: Shared Gains, Asymmetric Hipes, China Working Paper (Washington, DC: Interamerican Dialogue, 2006); Cynthia J. Arnson, Mark Mohr, and Riordan Roett, eds., Enter the Dragon: China’s Presence in Latin America (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2008); Riordan Roett and Guadalupe Paz, China’s Expansion into the Western Hemisphere: Implications for Latin America and the United States (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2008); R. Evan Ellis, China: The Whats and Wherefores (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2009); Daniel Lederman, Marcelo Olarrega, and Guillermo E. Perry, China and India’s Challenge to Latin America: Opportunity or Threat? (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2009); Rhys Jenkins and Enrique Dussel Peters, China and Latin America: Economic Relations in the 21st Century (Bonn: German Development Institute, 2009); Kevin Gallagher and Roberto Porzecanski, The Dragon in the Room (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010); A. H. Hearn and Jose Luis Leon Marquez, eds., China Engages Latin America: Tracing the Trajectory (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2011); Gaston Fornes and Alan Butt Philip, The China-Latin America Axis: Emerging Markets and the Future of Globalization (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012); Julia C. Strauss and Ariel C. Armony, eds., From the Great Wall to the New World: China and Latin America in the 21st Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012); Benjamin Creutzfeldt, ed., China en Latin America: Reflecciones sobre las relaciones transpacificas (Bogota, Colombia: Universidad Externado, 2012); He Shauangrong, ed., China-Latin America Relations: Review and Analysis, vol. 1 (Reading, MA: Paths International, 2012); R. Evan Ellis, The Strategic Dimension of China’s Engagement with Latin America (Washington, DC: Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, 2013); Enrique Dussel Peters, Adrian H. Hearn, and Harley Shaiken, eds.,China and the New Triangular Relationship in the Americas (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 2013); R. Evan Ellis, China on the Ground in Latin America: Challenges for the Chinese and Impacts on the Region, (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2014); José Ignacio Martínez Cortés, ed., America Latina y el Caribe y China: Economía, comercio e inversión 2015 (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, 2015), http://www. redalc-china.org/redalcchina_2015_economia.pdf; Riordan Roett and Guadalupe Paz, eds., Latin America and the Asian Giants: Evolving Ties with China and India, (Washington, DC: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016); Kevin P.  Gallagher, The China Triangle: Latin America’s China Boom and the Fate of the Washington Consensus (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016); Carol Wise and Margaret Myers, eds., The Political Economy of China-Latin American Relations in the New Millennium (New York: Routledge, 2016); David DeNoon, ed., China, The U.S. and The Future of Latin America (New York: New York University Press, 2017); and Joshua Eisenman and Eric Heginbotham, eds., China’s Strategy in the Developing World: Objectives, Methods and Implications for the United States (New York: Routledge, 2018).
2. “China Oil Firm Buys EnCana Assets in Ecuador,” China Daily, 15 September 2005, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2005-09/15/content_478015.htm.
3. “Petrolera china desestima que protesta en Tarapoa haya afectado sus intereses,” El Universo,” 14 November 2006, http://www.eluniverso.com.
4. Jose Olmos, “Detenida Prefecta de Orellana por caso Dayuma,” El Universo, 9 December 2007, https://www.eluniverso.com/2007/12/09/0001/9/DA58C77D888842E1A9C2F934C507ABDF.html.
5. Paul Mena Erazo, “La mayor organización indígena de Ecuador se moviliza contra Correa,” El Pais, 8 March 2012, https://elpais.com/internacional/2012/03/08/actualidad/1331190707_452752.html.
6. “Panantza: los moradores no salen por miedo,” El Comercio, 21 December 2016, http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/panantza-moronasantiago-miedo-mineria-indigenas.html.
7. “Nueva protesta en el proyecto Río Blanco,” El Tiempo, 9 May 2018, https://www.eltiempo.com.ec/noticias/region/12/protesta-rio-blanco-azuay.
8. “Ex presidente Correa abandona partido que fundó y con que gobernó Ecuador,” El Nuevo Herald, 16 January 2008, https://www.elnuevoherald.com/noticias/mundo/america latina/article194871749.html#storylink=cpy
9. See, for example, “El Gobierno de Lenín Moreno se vuelve a acercar al FMI,” La Hora, 12 June 2018, https://www.lahora.com.ec/noticia/1102163347/el-gobierno-se-vuelve-a-acercar-al-fmi.
10. Paul Mena Erazo, “Ecuador renegocia contratos petroleros,” BBC, 17 December 2009, http://www.bbc.com/ mundo/economia/2009/12/091216_0448_ecuador_petroleo_mz.
11. “Fernando Villavicencio denunciará a Rafael Correa y Jorge Glas por ventas de crudo,” El Universo, 19 September 2017, https://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/2017/09/19/nota/6389023/villavicencio-denunciara-correa-glas-ventascrudo.
12. See R. Evan Ellis, “Lenin Moreno and the Struggle for the Soul of Ecuador’s (and Latin America’s) Left,” Global Americans, 2 August 2018, https://theglobalamericans.org/2018/08/lenin-moreno-and-the-struggle-for-the-soul-of-ecuadors-and-latinamericas-left/.
13. Mercedes Alvaro, “Ecuador and China Seek to Strengthen Ties,” Wall Street Journal, 20 January 2014, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ecuador-and-china-seek-to-strengthen-ties-1390252324.
14. Interview with Fernando Villavicencio, Quito, Ecuador, 27 July 2018. See also “Seis firmas acaparan las obras costeadas con créditos chinos,” El Universo, 15 October 2017, https://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/2017/10/15/ nota/6430801/seis-firmas-acaparan-obras-costeadas-creditos-chinos.
15. Interview off-the-record with Ecuadoran petroleum analysts, Quito, Ecuador, July 2018.
16. Ellis, “Lenin Moreno.”
17. See “Estos son los casos que investigará la Fiscalía de Ecuador en 2018,” El Universo, 9 January 2018, https://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/2018/01/09/nota/6558573/fiscalia-presenta-listado-casos-que-se-investigan-este-2018; and “Fiscalía rastrea dinero de negociación con Petrochina,” Vistazo, 18 July 2018, http://www.vistazo.com/seccion/pais/politica-nacional/fiscalia-rastrea-dinero-de-negociacion-con-petrochina.
18. Felix Salmon, “How Ecuador Sold Itself to China,” Reuters, 5 July 2011, http://blogs.reuters.com/felixsalmon/2011/07/05/how-ecuador-sold-itself-to-china/.
19. “Ecuador negocia con China para exportar productos y buscar inversión,” El Comercio, 19 July 2016, http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/ecuador-exportacion-productos-china-inversion.html.
20. “‘China se adueña del crudo de Venezuela’,” El Nacional, 6 April 2015, http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/petroleo/china-aduena-del-crudo-venezuela_229750.
21. See Ellis, “Lenin Moreno.”
22. Karina Martin, “Ecuador Vice President Denies Corruption in Oil Sales to China,” Panam Post, 15 February 2017,https://panampost.com/karina-martin/2017/02/15/ecuador-vice-president-denies-corruption-in-oil-sales-to-china/.
23. Correa’s presence at the event was not unusual, since Ecuador held the presidency of CELAC at the time.
24. “Prensa de Ecuador destaca visita de presidente chino, Xi Jinping, al país,” Xinhua, 19 November 2016, http://spanish.xinhuanet.com/2016-11/19/c_135841288.htm.
25. “Spotlight: China, Ecuador Lift Ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” Xinhua, 18 November 2016,
26. Ellis, “Lenin Moreno.”
27. “Ecuador y China,” El Comercio, accessed 29 June 2018, http://www.elcomercio.com/opinion/editorial/chinaecuador-presidente-deuda-economia.html.
28. The most detailled accounts of these transactions are Fernando Villavicencio, El feriado petrolero, Artes Graficas Silva, 2017, and Fernando Villavicencio, Ecuador Made in China (Quito, Ecuador: Artes Graficas Silva, 2013).
29. “Ecuador quiere diversificar sus exportaciones a China,” El Comercio, 15 June 2017, http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/ecuador-exportacion-productos-china-camaron.html.
30. Ben Dummett, “Chinese Petroleum Companies Buy Interests in Ecuador,” Washington Post, 14 September 2005, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp dyn/content/article/2005/09/13/AR2005091302132.html?noredirect=on.
31. Marianna Parraga, “Chilean, Russian, Chinese Firms Interested in Ecuador’s Oil Auction,” Reuters, 6 March 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ceraweek-energy-ecuador/chilean-russian-chinese-firms-interested-in-ecuadors-oil-auctionidUSKCN1GJ01L.
32. “Petroamazonas contrató con Sinopec para Tiputini,” El Comercio, 15 June 2016, http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/petroamazonas-contrato-sinopec-tiputini-ecuador.html.
33. Jonathan Kaiman, “Controversial Ecuador Oil Deal Lets China Stake an $80-million Claim to Pristine Amazon Rainforest,” 29 January 2016, http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico americas/la-fg-ecuador-china-oil-20160129-story.html.
34.“Ecuador Vote Paints Mixed Picture for Business, Extractives Sector,” Forbes, 6 February 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/riskmap/2018/02/06/ecuador-vote-paints-mixed-picture-for-business-extractives-sector/#5cf2e9f054d0.
35. Interview with Ecuadoran analysts, Quito, Ecuador, July 2018.
36. See, for example, “Nuevo fallo en EE.UU reaviva caso de Chevron-Texaco en el Pais,” El Comercio, accessed 29 June 2018, http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/negocios/nuevo-fallo-ee-uu-reaviva.html.
37. Jose Olmos, “Detenida Prefecta de Orellana por caso Dayuma,” El Universo, 9 December 2007, https://www.eluniverso.com/2007/12/09/0001/9/DA58C77D888842E1A9C2F934C507ABDF.html.
38. “Principales casos de represión en el gobierno de Rafael Correa,” Ecuador in Review, 28 April 2016, http://www.ecuadorreview.com/in-depth-ecuador/investigations/principales-casos-de-represion-en-el-gobierno-de-rafael-correa/.
39.“Nueva empresa interesada en la Refinería del Pacífico,” El Comercio, 2 August 2015, http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/empresa-refineria-pacifico-petroleo-china.html.
40. “Ecuador’s Refinery Dream Seems More of a Fantasy: Fuel for Thought,” Platts, 15 February 2016, http://blogs.platts.com/2016/02/15/ecuadors-refinery-dream-fuel-for-thought/.
41. Brianna Lee, “China-Latin America Relations: In Ecuador, Dependency on Beijing Financing of Development
Projects Raises Fears, Uncertainty for Some,” IBI Times, 22 November 2015, http://www.ibtimes.com/china-latin-america-relations-ecuador-dependency-beijing-financing-development-2190025.
42. Clifford Krauss and Keith Bradsher, “China’s Global Ambitions, Cash and Strings Attached,” New York Times, 26
July 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/26/business/international/chinas-global-ambitions-with-loans-and-strings-attached.
43. Interview off-the-record with Ecuadoran petroleum analysts, July 2018, Quito Ecuador.
44. See Villavicencio, 2018.
45. Brianna Lee, “China-Latin America Relations: In Ecuador, Dependency on Beijing Financing of Development
Projects Raises Fears, Uncertainty for Some,” International Business Times, 22 November 2015, https://www.ibtimes.com/chinalatin-america-relations-ecuador-dependency-beijing-financing-development-2190025.
46. Interview with Vernando Villavicencio, Quito, Ecuador, 27 August 2018.
47. Joshua Schneyer, Nicolas Medina, and Mora Perez, “Special Report: How China Took Control of an OPEC Country’s Oil,” Reuters, 26 November 2013, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-ecuador-oil-special-report-idUSBRE9AP0HX20131126.
48. “Cinco cambios tras renegociación de contratos de preventa de petróleo,” El Comercio, 23 May 2018, https://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/cambios-renegociacion-contratos-preventa-petroleo.html.
49. Ibid.
50. See, for example, “Villavicencio denuncia contratos de Ecuador con Petrochina,” Vistazo, 28 September 2017, http://www.vistazo.com/seccion/pais/politica-nacional/villavicencio-denuncia-contratos-de-ecuador-con-petrochina.
51. “Ecuador’s New Mining Law Prompts Further Protests and Concern,” Mines and Communities, 15 January 2009, http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=9044. See also R. Evan Ellis, China on the Ground in Latin America, 18.
52. Jeffrey Jones, “Canada Miners Jump after Chinese Bid for Corriente,” Reuters, 29 December 2009, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-corriente-crcctongguan/canada-miners-jump-after chinese-bid-for-corriente-idUSTRE5BS33Y20091229.
53. Paul Mena Erazo, “La mayor organización indígena de Ecuador se moviliza contra Correa,” El Pais, 8 March 2012, https://elpais.com/internacional/2012/03/08/actualidad/1331190707_452752.html.
54. Paul Mena Erazo, “China intenta lavar su imagen tras irrumpir en la minería de Ecuador,” El Pais, 16 March 2012,https://elpais.com/internacional/2012/03/16/actualidad/1331887749_242284.html.
55. “Paralización en el proyecto minero de cobre Mirador,” El Comercio, 15 May 2014, http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/negocios/paralizacion-proyecto-minero-de-cobre.html.
56. “Protesta contra la explotación minera frente a embajada de China,” Ecuavisa, 14 July 2015, http://www.ecuavisa.
57. “Comuneros amazónicos piden suspensión de proyecto minero Mirador,” El Universo, 29 October 2015, https://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/2015/10/29/nota/5211770/comuneros-reclaman-mineria.
58. “Nueva protesta.”
59. “Juez suspende la explotación minera en Río Blanco,” El Telégrafo, 2 June 2018, https://www.eltelegrafo.com.ec/noticias/regional/1/explotacion-minera-rio-blanco-azuay.
60. Ecuador moviliza a fuerzas de seguridad tras incidente en campamento minero chino,” El Universo, 16 December 2016, https://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/2016/12/16/nota/5957632/ecuador-moviliza-fuerzas-seguridad-tras-incidente-campamento-minero.
61. “Sopladora será concesionada por 30 años,” El Comercio, 26 August 2016, http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/azuay-inauguracion-sopladora-concesion-energia.html.
62. “Microfisuras y fisuras, en dos áreas sensibles del Coca Codo,” El Comercio, 13 May 2018, https://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/microfisuras-fisuras-cocasinclair-defectos-energia.html.
63.“Ecuador moviliza a fuerzas de seguridad tras incidente en campamento minero chino,” La Republica, 1 June 2018, https://www.larepublica.ec/blog/politica/2018/06/01/ecuador-contratara-firma-internacional-para-realizar-auditoriaa-su-mayor-hidroelectrica/.
64“China niega maltrato a Ecuador para otorgarle crédito,” El Diario, 4 January 2010, http://www.eldiario.ec/noticias-manabi-ecuador/139678-china-niega-maltrato-a-ecuador-para-otorgarle-credito/.
65. “Coca-Codo Sinclair confirmó la muerte de 13 personas en el proyecto hidroeléctrico,” El Comercio, 14 December 2014, http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/muerto-heridos-accidente-cocacodosinclair-hidroelectrica.html.
66. “La garantía para la central Coca-Codo Sinclair disminuyó,” El Comercio, 22 May 2018, http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/garantia-central-cocacodosinclair-disminucion-contrato.html.
67. “Inauguración de Coca-Codo, el acto más relevante de Xi Jinping,” El Comercio, 19 November 2016, http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/inauguracion-cocacodosinclair-visita-xijinping.html.
68. “Cuarta firma china para hidroelectrica,” El Universo, 15 February 2012, https://www.eluniverso.com/2012/02/15/1/1356/cuarta-firma-china-hidroelectrica.html.
69. “Hidroeléctrica Toachi Pilatón y sus retrasos en diez años de construcción,” Ecuavisa, 5 May 2017, http://www.ecuavisa.com/articulo/noticias/economia/270121-hidroelectrica-toachi-pilaton-sus-retrasos-diez-anos-construccion.
70.“Multa de USD 3,25 millones a CWE de China en el Toachi,” El Comercio, 15 February 2015, http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/multa-cwe-china-toachi-pilaton.html.
71. “Mazar-Dudas Hydro Plant,” BN Americas, accessed 29 June 2018, https://www.bnamericas.com/project-profile/en/hidroelectrica-mazar-dudas-hidroelectrica-mazar-dudas.
72. “La Corporación Eléctrica del Ecuador declaró incumplida a empresa china,” El Comercio, 8 January 2016, http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/empresa-china-electrica-ecuador-incumplida.html.
73. “Tres trabajadores chinos murieron en Ecuador,” El Nacional, 9 July 2014, http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/mundo/tres-trabajadores-chinos-murieron-ecuador_111195.
74. Juan Bosco Zambrano, “Notifican fin de contrato a empresa china a cargo de proyecto multipropósito en Chone,” El Universo, Guayaquil, Ecuador, 1 June 2013, https://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/2013/06/01/nota/977491/notifican-fin-contrato-empresa-china-cargo-proyecto-multiproposito.
75. “La Empresa china Goldwind construyará central eólica,” El Comercio, 16 August 2011, http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/negocios/empresa-china-goldwind-construira-central.html.
76. For discussion of Chinese highway and hydroelectric projects in Bolivia, see R. Evan Ellis, “Chinese Engagement with
Bolivia – Resources, Business Opportunities, and Strategic Location,” Air & Space Power Journal en Español 28, no. 2 (2016): 3–19, https://www.airuniversity.af.mil/Portals/10/ASPJ_Spanish/Journals/Volume-28_Issue-2/2016_2_03_ellis_s_eng.pdf.
77. Krauss and Bradsher, “China’s Global Ambitions.”
78. “Prolongación de la Av. Simón Bolívar estará lista en 2016,” El Telegrafo, 8 May 2013, https://www.eltelegrafo.com.ec/noticias/quito/11/prolongacion-de-la-av-simon-bolivar-estara-lista-en-2016.
79. Paulina Garzon, “China’s Grip on Ecuador’s Energy Matrix,” 13 April 2017 https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/v2_pg_china_grip_on_equador_energy_mix_updated_version.pdf.
80. “El Gobierno ecuatoriano ahora construirá escuelas del ‘Siglo XXI’,” El Comercio, 24 September 2016, https://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/gobierno-construira-escuelas-sigloxxi-ecuador.html.
81. Rosa Maria Torres, “Elefantes blancos: la estafa social de las escuelas del milenio,” Plan V, 3 April 2017, http://www.planv.com.ec/historias/sociedad/elefantes-blancos-la-estafa-social-escuelas-del-milenio.
82. Interview off-the-record with Ecuadoran scholar with knowledge of the project, Quito, Ecuador, July 2018.
83.“Yachay: los planes fallidos de un megaproyecto,” El Comercio, accessed 14 July 2018, https://especiales.elcomercio.com/2017/10/yachay/.
84. Krauss and Bradsher, “China’s Global Ambitions.”
85. “Noboa: ‘No se trata de una concesión a dedo lo de Posorja, es una alianza público-privada’,” El Telégrafo, 9 June2016, https://www.eltelegrafo.com.ec/noticias/politica/3/noboa-no-se-trata-de-una-concesion-a-dedo-lo-de-posorja-esuna-alianza-publico-privada.
86. Michele Labrut, “DP World Launches Construction of Deepwater Port in Posorja, Ecuador,” Seatrade Maritime News, 5 September 2017, http://www.seatrade maritime.com/news/americas/dp-world-launches-construction-of-deepwater-port-inposorja-ecuador.html.
87. “Ecuador quiere diversificar sus exportaciones a China,” El Comercio, 15 June 2018, http://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/ecuador-exportacion-productos-china-camaron.html.
88. “Ecuador: La exportación de bananas a China se dispara un 540% en cinco meses,” Fresh Plaza, 9 February 2014,http://www.freshplaza.es/article/84696/Ecuador-La-exportaci%C3%B3n-de-bananas-a-China-se-dispara-un-540-procent-en-cinco-meses.
89. Matt Craze, “Ecuadorian Shrimp Prices to Go Even Higher on Booming Chinese Demand,” Undercurrernt News,
10 June 2016, https://www.undercurrentnews.com/2016/06/10/booming-chinese-demand-to-raise-ecuadorean-shrimp-prices-evenhigher/.
90. Interview with Ecuadoran scholar, Quito, Ecuador, July 2018. See also R. Evan Ellis, “El impacto de China en Ecuador y América Latina,” in Relaciones Internacionales: Los Nuevos Horizontes, ed. Grace Jaramillo (Quito, Ecuador: FLACSO,
2009), 101– 22, http://asiapacifico.utadeo.edu.co/wp-content/files/impacto_china_ecuador.pdf.
91. R. Evan Ellis, “Latin America: Challenges for Chinese Firms.” LatinVex, 11 June 2014, http://latinvex.com/app/
92. “Chery se unió al portafolió de la Corporación Maresa,” La Republica, 24 November 2017, https://www.larepublica.co/empresas/chery-se-unio-al-portafolio-de-la-corporacion-maresa-2572974.
93. “Vehículo chino JAC ya se arma en Ecuador,” El Universo, 10 August 2017, https://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/2017/08/10/nota/6323128/vehiculo-chino-jac-ya-se-arma-pais
94. Interview off-the-record with Ecuadoran scholar, Quito, Ecuador, July 2018.
95. The principal proposed route would cross the Andes, then link to the Napo River, theoretically allowing cargoes to cross the content from Manta through the Amazon to the Brazilian manufacturing hub Manaus, and to the Atlantic exit of the Amazon River at Belen. See Eva Medalla, “Manta-Manaus Multimodal Corridor to be Ready in 2011,” Business News Americas, 9 October 2008, http://www.bnamericas.com/news/infrastructure/Manta-Manaus_multimodal_corridor_to_be_ ready_in_20111.
96. Rodolfo Párraga, “La concesión del puerto de Manta, a fuego cruzado,” El Telégrafo, 29 September 2016, https://www.eltelegrafo.com.ec/noticias/economia/4/la-concesion-del-puerto-de-manta-a-fuego-cruzado.
97. “EXPRESO (Guayaquil) Giro de timón en los puertos de Guayaquil,” Ecuadorinmediato, 26 June 2018, http://ecuadorinmediato.com/index.php module=Noticias&func=news_user_view&id=2818838859.
98. “Noboa: “No se trata de una concesión a dedo lo de Posorja, es una alianza público-privada”,” El Telégrafo, 9 June 2016, https://www.eltelegrafo.com.ec/noticias/politica/3/noboa-no-se-trata-de-una-concesion-a-dedo-lo-de-posorja-esuna-alianza-publico-privada.
99. Labrut, “DP World Launches Construction.”
100. Interviews off-the-record with Ecuadoran businessmen, Quito, Ecuador, 3 August 2018. See, also, the Huawei products on the CNT webpage, https://www.cnt.gob.ec/movil/marca/huawei/.
101. See, for example, R. Evan Ellis, The Strategic Dimension of China’s Engagement with Latin America, William J. Perry Paper
(Washington, DC: Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, October 2013), http://chds.dodlive.mil/files/2013/12/pub-PP-ellis.pdf.
102. “Ecuador Pegasus Satellite Fears over Space Debris Crash,” BBC News, 24 May 2013, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-22635671.
103. “Yachay: los planes fallidos.”
104. See, for example, “China’s ECU 911 Improves Emergency Service in Ecuador,” Xinhua, 18 April 2017, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-04/18/c_136217587_2.htm.
105. “China’s Tie with Latin America Extends to Security,” China Daily, 25 October 2014, http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2014-10/25/content_18802731.htm.
106. Ibid.
107. “Ecuador comprará aviones de transporte militar chinos,” El Universo, 16 August 2010, https://www.eluniverso.com/2010/08/16/1/1355/ecuador-comprara-aviones-transporte-militar-chinos-segun-ministro.html.
108. “Empresa china CETC que vendió radares pide $ 280 millones a Ecuador,” El Universo, 7 November 2016, https://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/2016/11/07/nota/5892721/empresa-que-vendio-radares-pide-280-millones-estado.
109. “Ecuador compra a china 709 vehiclos por 81 milliones de dóllarrs,” Infodefensa, 7 April 2015, http://www.infodefensa.com/latam/2015/04/07/noticia-ecuador-compra-china-vehiculos-millones-dolares.html.
110. “Ecuador recibe 10.000 fusiles AK-47 donado por China,” Infodefensa, 5 September 2016, http://www.infodefensa.com/latam/2016/09/05/noticia-ecuador-recibe-10000-fusiles-donados-china.html.
111. “China and Ecuador Agree to Strengthen Military Ties,” Latin America Herald Tribune, accessed 29 June 2018, http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2352365&CategoryId=14089.
112. Based on off-the-record discussions by the author with Ecuadoran personnel, 2017 and 2018.
113. Based on various off-the-record conversations by e-mail, Skype, and in person with Ecuadoran academics and
businessmen, 2018.
114. See R. Evan Ellis, “El impacto de China en Ecuador y América Latina,” Relaciones Internacionales: Los Nuevos Horizontes, ed. Grace Jaramillo, (Quito, Ecuador: FLACSO, 2009), 101–22.
115. For more on the school, see its official website, “Instituto de Altos Estudios Nacionales,” accessed 3 August 2018, http://www.iaen.edu.ec/.
116. “Universidad San Francisco de Quito – Instituto Confucio,” University of San Francisco de Quito Confucius Institute, official site, accessed 15 July 2018, http://www.usfq.edu.ec/sobre_la_usfq/servicios/instituto_confucio/Paginas/default.aspx.
117. Ellis, “Chinese Engagement with Bolivia.”
118. Dreher, A., A. Fuchs, B. C. Parks, A. M. Strange, and M. J. Tierney, “Aid, China, and Growth: Evidence from a
New Global Development Finance Dataset” (AidData Working Paper #46, Williamsburg, VA: AidData, 2017).
119. See Ellis, “Chinese Engagement with Bolivia.”
120. Ibid.
121. Ellis, “Lenin Moreno.”
122. Rosa María Torres, “Las 244 promesas de Lenín Moreno,” Plan V, 17 April 2017, http://www.planv.com.ec/historias/politica/244-promesas-lenin-moreno.
123. “Dos niños ecuatorianos se encuentran separados de sus padres en Estados Unidos, aseguró Lenín Moreno,” El
Universo, 28 June 2018, https://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/2018/06/29/nota/6834743/dos-ninos-ecuatorianos-seencuentran-separados-sus-padres-estados.
124. “Asistencia a Ecuador por $ 7 millones llegará desde Estados Unidos,” El Universo, 29 June 2018, https://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/2018/06/29/nota/6834098/asistencia-ecuador-7-millones-llegara-eeuu.
125. The election of Mauricio Macri in Argentina in 2015 may arguably also be considered a case in this regard.


Dr. R. Evan Ellis es Profesor e investigador de Estudios Latinoamericanos en el U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, con enfoque en las relaciones de América Latina con China y otros actores fuera del hemisferio occidental. Analista colaborador de OCATRY (Observatorio contra la Amenaza Terrorista y la Radicalización Yihadista) de SECINDEF.  Ha publicado más de 190 trabajos, incluyendo: China in Latin America: The Whats and Wherefores (2009), The Strategic Dimension of Chinese Engagement with Latin America (2013) y, China on the Ground in Latin America (2014). También ha presentado estos temas en diversas ocasiones ante el Congreso de los Estados Unidos. Ha presentado sus trabajos en foros de 26 países en 4 continentes y ha publicado numerosos artículos sobre su especialidad. Tiene un doctorado en Ciencias Políticas de la Universidad Purdue.