Will China Strengthen Latin America Ties in the Wake of U.S Abandonment?

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BEIJING, China – The U.S has suspended financial assistance to three Latin American countries: Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

In addition, US President Donald Trump said that the trade frontier with Mexico, where Mexican goods enter the US, could be closed. With this, China could take advantage of the situation to strengthen its presence in the region.

China was cooperating with Latin American countries even before the US president came to power. Meanwhile, Chinese interest in the region has grown in recent years, especially after several diplomatic partners failed to recognize Taiwan, supporting Beijing, explains Andrei Karneev, Deputy Director of the Institute of Asian and African Countries at Moscow State University.

Under current conditions, China may gain new opportunities in Latin America. In addition, it is possible to note the visible inconsistency of US policy, that is, the US is presenting its main geopolitical rival with a region that has always been in US interest, Karneev said.

According to Fa Hesheng, director of the Institute of Latin America at Anhui University (China), China has no reason to fill the void left by the US in the region, but recognizes that its space is growing in Latin America.

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In addition, Fa Hesheng explains that the “isolation” demonstrated by the US has a political character and that both the Democrats and the Republicans are against this isolation, even in relation to the border with Mexico.

“Therefore, this trend of isolation may be temporary and probably not part of a long-term strategy,” notes Fa Hesheng.

Washington will “certainly be against the presence of Russia and China” in the region, since relations between the United States and Latin America are very narrow, that is, the Americans will not reduce strategic investments in Latin American countries.

“The United States is not ready to reduce strategic [investment], as is demonstrated by what is happening in Venezuela. Why would the US support Guaidó if the US had given up trying to continue to influence strategically, there would be no need [to support it ],” Hesheng points out.

He also believes that Chinese investments in Latin American countries are very valuable, even for large countries like Brazil and Argentina, since the economic growth of developing countries, as they do not have much purchasing power, is measured by the level of investment.

“China’s presence in Latin America, especially with the appearance of the ‘One Belt, One Route’ initiative, can increase [China’s] integration in Latin America […],” Hesheng notes, concluding that China’s presence will allow the region to thrive and evolve.

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