Over the past 10 years, Xi Jinping has been to Latin America more often than Presidents Obama, Trump and Biden put together.
Christopher Dodd, the U.S. Special Presidential Adviser for the Americas, visited two Central American countries, Honduras and Panama. Officially, to discuss migration and security issues and to prioritize trade and development. Unofficially, to express Washington's concern over China's "economic expansion". Apparently, this visit was not planned and is related to Tegucigalpa's unexpected intention to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing, moreover, based on the "one China" principle, of which Taiwan is a part.
Honduras could become the 22nd Latin American state to establish diplomatic relations with China. Such "expansion" by the Celestial Empire in the "backyard of America" breaks the hearts of the Pentagon and the Capitol. "Xi Jinping has been to Latin America more times than Presidents Obama, Trump and Biden put together in the last 10 years," said Florida Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. - "The Chinese are not here to trade. They are here for war."
The beginning of the twenty-first century can be considered the starting point of China's massive penetration into Latin America. Since 2000, Chinese state firms have quietly become major investors in the region's energy, infrastructure and space industries, and today the country has surpassed the United States as South America's largest trading partner. Beijing has also expanded its diplomatic, cultural and military presence. It has used its support in the fight against COVID-19 by providing the region with medical equipment, loans and hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine. "One day we'll wake up and the Chinese are already under our windows," noted Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
From 2000 to 2020, trade between China and Latin America increased 26-fold, from $12 billion to $400 billion, and is expected to reach more than $700 billion a year by 2035.
Chinese companies are investing in regional infrastructure such as ports, roads, railroads and dams. Chinese purchases of mineral resources and agricultural products - beef from Argentina and Uruguay, copper from Chile, petroleum from Venezuela and Colombia, soybeans from Brazil - have helped Latin American countries weather the storm and hardships of the 2008 financial crisis.
And now 19 Latin American and Caribbean countries have joined Xi Jinping's One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative - the creation of a transcontinental trade and infrastructure network worth $1 trillion.
Faced with a shocking onslaught from China, Trump launched his América Crece project as a direct competitor to the OBOR in 2019. The project paid lip service to help countries attract private investment by establishing transparent rules in accordance with international best practices. But privileged Latin American agreements with U.S. firms in the most promising energy sectors were encouraged above all. However, Trump failed to create a real alternative to the Silk Road.
By replacing Trump, Biden sanctioned a "Keynesian reset" (Keynesianism is the macroeconomic theory of English economist John Keynes, which is based on the idea that government regulation of the economy is necessary to protect society from the negative effects of economic decline. - Auth.), without offering any solution. He repeated the same scheme as America Crece, only with the more pompous name of the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity. The huge budget deficits of the U.S. Treasury limit the Keynesian reset envisioned by Biden and prevent foreign competition with the Eastern giant. Latin America has been left to grow on North American words.
Meanwhile, the Celestial Empire has offered Latin Americans suffering from a catastrophic shortage of money a new project of foreign direct investment. The Export-Import Bank of China and the China Development Bank provided a loan of about $138 billion to Latin American and Caribbean countries, giving Brazil, Peru, Chile and Argentina $60 billion, $27 billion, $15 billion and $12 billion, respectively. Thus, Beijing succeeded in occupying a special economic niche in South American politics, as a competitor to the International Monetary Fund.
Of course, China will not stop there, but will continue to strengthen ties with the region through so-called "people to people" diplomacy, moving to cultural and educational exchanges, technology transfer and scientific research. For this purpose, 39 Confucius Institutes and Hanban scholarships are engaged to select the best and most promising minds focused on China, as well as trips to the PRC of Latin American scientists, analysts and journalists. The PRC also sells and even donates small quantities of weapons to Latin American police and military forces (especially to social-democratic governments), places Latin American troops in its military training institutions, and periodically sends warships and military delegations to the region.
Against this background, the United States is particularly concerned about China's growing defense and security cooperation with Argentina, one of the key countries in the region. Buenos Aires, to the obvious displeasure of Washington, has not only begun to buy weapons and military equipment from China, but has also authorized the construction of a Chinese satellite center in Patagonia. Although the Chinese side claims that it operates exclusively for peaceful purposes, the Americans call the Chinese satellite center in Patagonia a "dark horse." Anthony Beasley, head of the U.S. National Radio Astronomy Observatory, suggested that the Chinese satellite center in Argentina is theoretically connected with the Chinese strategy of "militarization of space," and can track satellites of other states and collect secret information.
China's rapid expansion into Latin America confirms the American establishment's worst fears - Beijing is driving a sharp wedge into a South American and Caribbean region that the rulers of the North disparagingly accustomed to calling "the backyard" and which they consider a mere extension of their own territory.
In the worst nightmares Washington could not have dreamed that Asian progress could reach such a scale on its own turf.
The battle for economic domination in Latin America is unfolding in the arena of global megaprojects. China has begun to create a giant belt of infrastructure, ports and routes, which has already included 145 countries - representing 70% of the world's population, accounting for 55% of the world's gross product.
Under these circumstances, the U.S. State Department has decided to use Russia's special military operation in Ukraine to engage Latin American foreign ministries in a campaign of sanctions and condemnation of the "Putin regime," imposing "criminal responsibility for the Russian invasion" without any mention of NATO. But since Russia's economic influence in Latin America has historically been extremely low, the U.S. intends to use the Ukrainian conflict to thwart the growing presence on the continent of Moscow's Chinese ally.
Biden is obsessed with this containment of Beijing. He knows that the countdown to control the region's natural resources is accelerating, and he urgently needs to restore Yankee dominance.
Living in the past is not forbidden. But it is impossible to go back to the past.