by Judith Bergman for the Gatestone Institute - July 6, 2022
China is now Latin America's largest trading partner (excluding Mexico).
China's relationships with Latin American countries however, are about far more than trade.
"It is not necessary to show malevolent PRC intentions with respect to its activities in Latin America and the Caribbean to conclude that the current and long-term implications of that engagement are grave for prosperity, democracy, and liberties in the region, as well as the security and strategic position of the United States." — Professor Evan Ellis, US Army War College, "Testimony before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission," May 20, 2021.
China also has another advantage: No regard for human rights or democracy. It is more than happy to invest in and trade with authoritarian dictatorships like itself.
"... U.S. influence has been diminishing in the continent." — Martha Bárcena, former Mexican ambassador to the United States, The New York Times, June 9, 2022.
The odds of Biden's new plan winning over Latin American countries -- where China has already massively invested in building roads, railways, harbors, bridges and a host of other infrastructure and communications projects, with no questions asked on the environment, climate or "inclusivity" -- are probably low. Even Biden administration officials do not seem to harbor any illusions about the new plan's ability to change facts on the ground....
"As long as China is ready to put its cash on the table, we seem to be fighting a losing battle." — U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, Reuters, June 8, 2022.
"Latin American governments complain that there's a lot of talk but ask 'where is the money'?" — Welber Barral, Brazil-based partner at BMJ Consultores Associados, Reuters, June 8, 2022.
"The U.S. is losing Latin America to China without putting up a fight, Ecuador's ambassador to Washington told Axios."
"And China is waiting, saying, 'We're here. We're giving you money.' They want control of course, but they don't say that." — Ivonne Baki, Ecuador's ambassador to the US, Axios, September 23, 2021.
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China is now Latin America's largest trading partner (excluding Mexico). China's relationships with the countries in the region, however, are about far more than trade. China's influence in the region has deepened to the point where it has translated into significant leverage. (Image source: iStock)