The 5th Session of Liangxiang Forum | From the Manila Galleon to the Belt and Road Initiative: History and Reality of China-Mexico Relations

On the evening of November 2, 2021, the fifth lecture of “Liangxiang Forum” of the Institute for International and Area Studies of Tsinghua University in the autumn semester of 2021 was held with the theme of “From the Manila Galleon to the Belt and Road Initiative: History and Reality of China-Mexico Relations” The lecture was given by Dong Jingsheng, professor of History Department of Peking University, and hosted by Zhou Yan, an assistant professor of the IIAS. Researchers and doctoral students from other colleges and universities attended the lecture.

At the beginning, Prof. Dong Jingsheng said that the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Latin American countries will be successively ushered in 2021 and 2022. It is of practical significance to review the development of relations between China and Latin American countries over the past half century and summarize and reflect on the experience and lessons of history. Taking the relations between China and Mexico as an example, this lecture mainly focuses on the Manila yacht trade from the 16th century to the early 19th century, the development and situation of Chinese workers and businessmen in Mexico from the end of the 19th century to the early 20th century, and the current economic and trade relations between China and Mexico. In the second half of the 16th century, Spain opened a Manila yacht trade route across the Pacific Ocean, connecting America and Asia, Manila, the Philippines in the East and Acapulco, Mexico in the West. In 1573, Chinese goods such as silk and porcelain were transported to Mexico for the first time through the Manila galleon trade route. As a result, China and the Americas established indirect economic ties linked by the Philippines, which promoted the formation of the maritime Silk Road. In 1899, China and Mexico officially signed the Treaty on Trade and shipping between China and Mexico, and the two countries established diplomatic relations for the first time. The number of Chinese and overseas Chinese in Mexico continues to increase year by year, gradually evolving from Chinese workers working in railway construction, mining and plantations to Chinese businessmen engaged in small-scale industrial and commercial activities. Since the 1980s, China and Mexico have successively implemented economic opening and liberalization policies. On the whole, the trade between the two countries is growing rapidly, and there are deficiencies at the same time. Mexico has a large deficit in its bilateral trade with China. In this regard, Prof. Dong Jingsheng made a multi-dimensional analysis and said that there is great potential for China Mexico economic and trade cooperation in the future.

During the interactive session, Prof. Dong Jingsheng and participants had a heated discussion on many issues, such as the distribution and differences of foreign workers in Latin America, and how the Qing government responded to the phenomenon of trafficking in Chinese workers in Latin America at that time. In addition, Prof. Dong also made analysis and suggestions on the difficulties and bottlenecks encountered in the research of Latin American issues, so as to stimulate the students to give full play to their subjective initiative in scientific research and scholarship. In the end, the audience spoke highly of the lecture and said that they had provided a lot of ideas and inspiration for their own research path.

Dong Jingsheng, doctor of history, professor and doctoral supervisor of the Department of history of Peking University; Director of the teaching and Research Office of Asian, African and Latin American modern history and director of the Latin American Research Center. He is also the vice president of the Latin American Society of China, the academic member of the Latin American Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and the academic member of the Institute of international and regional studies of Tsinghua University. The main research fields are Latin American history, contemporary Latin American politics and China Latin America relations. He published works such as the history of Latin America, research on the path of modernization in Brazil: development during the military regime from 1964 to 1985, descendants of Maya, land and freedom: Research on Farmers’ mobilization in the process of Mexican modernization, and published a number of academic papers in domestic and foreign journals. He has visited the United States, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain and other countries for research, and participated in academic conferences in Germany, Argentina, Costa Rica, Cuba, Japan, South Korea and other countries.

Text by: Xu Shuai
Typesetting by: Cheng Yao
Reviewed by: Cheng Yao