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China's Role in Latin America: a Threat to the US?

China’s Burgeoning Role in Latin America — a Threat to the U.S.?

*• Until recently, Washington has all but ignored that China is making important inroads in the region—China and a number of western hemispheric countries have deepened their cooperation, especially in the areas of trade and development.

• As the world’s second largest and fastest growing major economy, China possesses an insatiable appetite for Latin American natural resources and agricultural products, and is now beginning to realize its full potential as a world power, challenging and, perhaps overshadowing, the United States in a number of economic sectors—China’s quest could rival the U.S.’ need for the same products.

• With $50 billion worth of trade and investments in Latin America, China is promoting its “peaceful rise” policy, while pledging to help Latin American developing countries achieve their own potential.

• U.S. risks losing trade revenue as well as sought-after products to Sino-Latin American cooperation*

At its own economic and political peril, Washington can no longer deny that its present chaotic Latin American policy and its strategy of malign neglect toward the region are doing great damage to its hemispheric policy. At the same time, China is making great strides in bolstering its position as a world power. Specifically, Beijing aims to expand trade ties with Latin America in order to sate its growing energy demands. However, China’s ventures into the region may inadvertently signal an assault on Washington’s long term political and economic interests in the hemisphere. The U.S. has far too often treated Latin America as its own “backyard” and will soon feel the repercussions of its policies of abandonment and rhetorical thunder if it does not pay closer attention to the region, which now seems very anxious to look elsewhere for economic benefits and sustainability. With the Free Trade of the Americas agreement on the point of collapse, the Bush administration would do well to sweep clean its present stable of misguided and ill-prepared Latin American policy makers, particularly if it hopes to blunt Beijing’s economic and political offensive.

*China Wants Oil, Oil, and More Oil* As China becomes economically more powerful and consumes increasingly larger amounts of energy that befits a burgeoning consumer society, the country’s limited oil reserves will force it to look outside the border for the additional petroleum supplies necessary to run its many industries. Officials estimate that by 2007, China will need to import 50 percent of the oil it will consume.

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