It is evident that debts owed to the Asian giant, which punish the budgets of a growing number of countries in the area, are enough to cause Latin American delegates of international organizations to support Chinese proposals.
In February during the episode involving the Chinese hot air balloon — supposedly spying on American cities — Joe Biden was blunt: “ … [W]e shot it down, sending a clear message — clear message: The violation of our sovereignty is unacceptable.”
The balloon was indeed destroyed by Department of Defense fighter jets, but the act was, undoubtedly, pure retaliation. The reality is that Washington has been defensive toward China; however, as far as its presence in Latin America is concerned, the U.S. has not been excessively proactive.
The White House is increasingly aware that China has been moving into national space the U.S. has been unable to hold over the last few years, to America’s own detriment.
According to a report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan body that serves congressional committees with relevant information on issues of legislative and executive interest, the Red Dragon’s activity in our region is not intended to challenge the U.S. directly or militarily — which explains U.S. indolence in the face of China’s potential advance.
Both political parties have held the conviction that, militarily, China does not exert, nor does it have among its priorities to exert, influence in the countries in the U.S.’ backyard. Thus, the topic of U.S. leadership in this region has not been an issue.
The State Department holds that, despite having grown significantly since the beginning of this century, the rationale for China’s commitment to the countries of the region is limited to the financing of and participation in infrastructure projects — in addition to the significant trade generated in both directions. Thus, China is ensured a certain loyalty from the governments; but what separates them from achieving significant external coercion are the profound political, social and cultural differences and the language barriers that China encounters in Central and South American nations.
However, by now it is evident that debts owed to the Asian giant, which punish the budgets of a growing number of countries in the area, are enough to cause Latin American delegates of international organizations to support Chinese proposals.
In view of the above, directional change in Washington’s diplomacy toward the region is imperative in the immediate future. There should no longer be talk of knotting bilateral relations with new loans or increasing trade; China will inevitably end up surpassing the volume of trade that the U.S. has with its Latin American partners.
An example of an alternative would be the undertaking of an initiative to subsidize activities of economic and social significance in countries that desperately need it. This is seen as essential by all, including leftist and “progressive” currents running through Latin America, and would represent a path toward harmony with the U.S., allowing the wind to blow in its favor.
But the reality is that much more than this would be needed: The White House should be seriously concerned about counteracting under-the-radar technological influence deployed by China within our borders.