IRI Poll Reveals Citizens in Four Latin American Countries are Mostly Unaware of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Influence

Washington, DC – The International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research (CISR) conducted a poll in Argentina, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Panama, four countries that have seen large financial investments from Beijing, on their knowledge and perception of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence. The findings provide critical insights into the knowledge-gaps and opportunities for resilience against the authoritarian influence of the CCP in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).  

Throughout the last decade, the CCP has expanded its political and economic influence across LAC through trade, loans, aid, and cultural initiatives. The China Development Bank and China Export-Import Bank has provided more than $138 billion in loan commitments to LAC governments since 2005.  

However, people were generally unaware of the financial activities of the Chinese government. This was highest in Panama, where 62% did not know of any major Chinese investment. The percentage of Salvadorians, Argentines, and Dominicans that were not aware of any major PRC investment in their countries was 59%, 57%, and 55% respectively.  

“The widespread lack of public awareness of the CCP’s involvement in their countries is problematic because without this knowledge, the public is unable to put pressure on their government against unfavorable investments and loans,” said Antonio Garrastazu, IRI’s Senior Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “As governments in LAC become increasingly tied to the CCP, it is essential to assess public understanding and opinion on the CCP’s involvement in their country,” said Garrastazu. 

Survey results also demonstrate that pluralities in each of the four countries believe that democracy is the best possible form of government.  This sentiment was strongest in Argentina, where 80% stated their support for democracy. Furthermore, respondents in all the surveyed countries overwhelmingly ranked the U.S. as their most important political partner, over China.  

The data from the survey results are easily accessible in our polling dashboard, which includes instructions in English and Spanish. 

IRI has made accessible a detailed written report on the results of the surveys and their significance.


The survey was conducted on behalf of IRI’s Center for Insights in Survey Research by CID Gallup. Data was collected in four countries, the Dominican Republic, Panama, El Salvador, and Argentina, between September 9 and October 15, 2021. The samples consist of 1,220 resident citizens of the Dominican Republic, 1,216 resident citizens of Panama, 1,205 resident citizens of El Salvador, and 1,202 resident citizens of Argentina, all aged 18 years or older. Interviews in the Dominican Republic, Panama, and El Salvador were conducted via face-to-face computer-assisted personal interviews (CAPI) conducted at respondents’ homes, and interviews in Argentina were conducted via computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI). Data were weighted by age, gender, region, and urbanity according to national population estimates for each country. The margin of error was ±2.8-points at the 95% confidence level in all the countries surveyed.  

IRI also commissioned Q-Q Research Consultants (Q-Q) to conduct in-depth interviews (IDIs) with experts in CCP influence from a variety of backgrounds including academia, consumer protection groups, government, civil society organizations, and journalism to supplement the polling results. The experts were given the opportunity to study the polling results to provide in-depth contextual analysis by using their knowledge of their country’s political dispositions, and historical relations with the CCP. Q-Q conducted 20 in-depth interviews in total, five for each of the four countries in January 2022.  

Up ArrowTop