Mexico–China relations are foreign relations between the People's Republic of China and the United Mexican States. They were established amidst tensions in 1972, and in recent years have seen an intense export rivalry over the United States market, with the Mexican government having accused the Chinese of impinging on its export territory by flooding the US with cheap goods manufactured in low-wage factories.
Sino-Mexican contacts date to the early days of the Spanish Colonial Empire in the Americas and the Philippines. In the 16-17th century, people, goods, and news traveling between China and Spain usually did so through the Philippines (where there was a large Chinese settlement) and (via the Manila galleon trade) Mexico. (This is different from the routes of the Portuguese and later Dutch, who sailed from Europe to China around Africa and via the Indian Ocean). The first two galleons loaded with Chinese goods arrived from the Philippines to Acapulco in 1573.
Of particular significance for the trade between the Spanish Colonial Empire and Ming and Qing China were the so-called "Spanish dollars", fine silver coins many of which were minted in Mexico from Mexican silver. Even after Mexican independence, and, later, the Spain's loss of the Philippines, Mexican dollars remained important for China's monetary system. During the late Qing, they became the standard relative to which the silver coins that China's provincial mints started to produce were to be valued.
This historic connection between the two countries is attested by two important early Spanish-language books (soon translated to Europe's other major languages) that were authored by Spanish ecclesiastics stationed in Mexico: Juan González de Mendoza's The history of the great and mighty kingdom of China and the situation thereof (1585) and Juan de Palafox y Mendoza's The History of the Conquest of China by the Tartars (posthumously published in 1670).
In December 1899, Imperial China and Mexico formally established diplomatic relations after signing a Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation between the two nations. In 1904, Mexico opened its first diplomatic mission in Beijing and maintained a diplomatic mission in several cities where it was forced to move during various wars and instability until the mission was finally closed due to the Japanese invasion of China in 1941. In 1942, Mexico re-opened a diplomatic mission in the city of Chongqing and in 1943 diplomatic missions between the two nations were elevated to embassies.
In 1971, Mexico decided to break formal diplomatic relations with the Republic of China after the successful passing of Resolution 2758 at the United Nations recognizing the People's Republic of China as the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations. In February 1972, the People's Republic of China and Mexico established diplomatic relations.
In 2005, Chinese President Hu Jintao came to Mexico promising increased investment in industries like automobile-parts manufacture and mineral exportation. In July 2008, Mexican President Felipe Calderón reciprocated with a visit to Beijing in a bid to improve bilateral trade. Nevertheless, China has focused more on South American commodity producers such as Brazil and Chile to meet this end and fuel its chiefly-export economy. In 2008, Mexico exported just $2 billion worth of goods to China while importing some $34 billion from her, including clothing, electronics and "tourist trinkets".
2009 swine-flu spat
In 2009, in the wake of fears of a worldwide swine flu pandemic, thought to have started in Mexico, relations between the two countries, hitherto improving steadily, cooled substantially over China's decision to quarantine some seventy Mexican citizens, despite none of them showing symptoms of the virus. The Mexican government responded with outrage and, although China imposed the same measures on four nationals from the US and more than twenty from Canada, dubbed the act discriminatory. Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa used such terms as "unacceptable" and "without foundation", and advised compatriots not to travel to China.
China repudiated the accusations with the defence that its measures were strictly medical. Only one Mexican, a man in Hong Kong, was found to be infected. On May 5, the Chinese government, warning its citizens against travelling to Mexico, sent an aeroplane from Shanghai to collect some 100 of her citizens (mainly tourists, students and businesspersons) from Mexico, where 22 swine flu-related deaths had already occurred, and where the citizens had been hiding in northern hotels for some days waiting for the chance to leave. The Chinese were by no means alone in such measures, however. Reuters described the exodus thus:
Even as Mexico said the flu crisis seemed to be dissipating and prepared to reopen closed businesses, Chinese nationals wearing face masks and loaded with luggage streamed aboard a Chinese-chartered jet that stopped in Mexico City and the northern city of Tijuana.
Despite this, a mutual desire to increase bilateral trade and increase shipping of Mexican raw materials into China suggested that diplomatic tensions would be only temporary. "This should not affect the relationship in the medium-term because we are talking about an overreaction on both sides", said Enrique Dussel, an expert on Mexican-Chinese trade at the UNAM University in Mexico City.
But Reuters quoted Dan Erikson, an analyst at the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue as noting that, "Of all the major countries in Latin America, China has the most tense relationship with Mexico. The swine flu crisis has just revealed once again that they haven't built the partnership that both countries say that they want. There is a lot of mutual ignorance and no strategic framework. This just shows there is a lot of work to be done [...]."
Resident diplomatic missions
- China has an embassy in Mexico City and a consulate-general in Tijuana.
- Mexico has an embassy in Beijing and a consulate-general in Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
- Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs on historical diplomatic relations between Mexico and China (in Spanish)
- Reuters. "Flu spat cools budding Mexico-China relationship." Reuters. 5 May 2009. (accessed May 6, 2009).
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- Reuters 2009.
- See footnotes to pp. 121-122 in the annotated 1853 English edition: The history of the great and mighty kingdom of China and the situation thereof
- Twitchett 1998, p. 391
- Twitchett, Denis C., ed. (1998), The Cambridge History of China: Volume 8, The Ming Dynasty, Part 2; Parts 1368-1644, Cambridge University Press, pp. 407–408, ISBN 0521243335
- Nathan, Andrew James (1976), Peking politics, 1918-1923: factionalism and failure of constitutionalism, Volume 8 of Michigan Studies on China, University of California Press, ISBN 0520027841
- Chen, Min-Sun [Chen Mingsheng] (2003), Mythistory in Sino-Western Contacts. Jesuit Missionaries and the Pillars of Chinese Catholic Religion, Thunder Bay (Ontario): Lakehead University Printing Services, pp. 159–172, ISBN 0-88663-045-2
- History of diplomatic relations between Mexico and China (in Spanish)
- Quoted in Reuters 2009.
- Embassy of China in Mexico City (in Chinese and Spanish)
- Consulate-General of China in Tijuana (in Chinese and Spanish)
- Embassy of Mexico in Beijing (in Chinese and Spanish)
- Consulate-General of Mexico in Guangzhou (in Chinese and Spanish)
- Consulate-General of Mexico in Hong Kong (in Chinese, English and Spanish)
- Consulate-General of Mexico in Shanghai (in Chinese and Spanish)