Daily Fortune Cookie News
China Moving to Replace US Influence in Latin America
By Patrick Goodenough
CNSNews.com International Editor
April 08, 2005
Pacific Rim Bureau (CNSNews.com) - China's growing influence in Latin America forms part of a "grand strategy" to counter U.S. dominance and eventually replace America as the world's most powerful nation, U.S. lawmakers have been told.
Officials and experts testifying before a House subcommittee hearing this week used different terms to describe the gravity of the challenge posed to the U.S. by Chinese actions in the Western Hemisphere, but they generally agreed that Washington needs to respond.
Lawmakers heard about Beijing's growing economic and political influence in South America and the Caribbean, developments described as "worrisome" by Peter Brookes, director of the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation.
China also is expanding its military-to-military contacts in the region, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega told the panel. He cited reports of 20 visits to Latin America and the Caribbean by national-level Chinese defense officials, and nine such visits in the opposite direction.
During a visit to Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Cuba last November, Chinese President Hu Jintao announced $100 billion worth of investment over the next decade.
Brookes described Beijing's plans for the Western Hemisphere as part of its broader strategy to challenge the U.S.
"China is looking to 'quietly' use its growing economic strength to build new political relationships abroad, while exploiting dissatisfaction with the United States wherever possible," he said.
"Eventually, in Beijing's estimation, once China has gathered as many allies and friends as possible -- and developed its economic and military strength to near that of other major powers, it will be able to challenge the United States directly, if necessary."
The goal was "to succeed the U.S. as the world's most powerful nation."
To that end, China was seeking friends and allies in Latin America as well as in other regions, Brookes said.
"Its actions are worrisome in Latin America and the Caribbean because some national leaders, such as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, welcome the arrival of another world power to offer an alternative to the United States."
Lawmakers heard a pessimistic assessment of how the U.S. was viewed in Latin America from Cynthia Watson, professor of strategy at the National War College.
"For Latin America, long impatience with U.S. neglect translated into virtual giddiness at the Chinese leader's appearance in the region [during his November visit]," she said.
"Ironically, Hu Jintao's vision of greater economic, financial, trade, and technology ties was precisely the sort of engagement that Latin America has long wanted from Washington.
"Latin America was ready to welcome someone who came with a smile and an outstretched hand, rather than the lecture and wagging finger Latins have received from so many high-level U.S. visits."
Watson said Latin America would continue to reach out to China as long as it perceived that it was being neglected while the U.S. focused on promoting democracy and free trade in the Middle East.
Noriega, by contrast, gave an upbeat appraisal of the situation, saying that it was unlikely the Chinese moves would translate into significant political support from Latin American countries on multilateral issues.
"China is a growing presence in the Western Hemisphere, but it is safe to say that the United States has been, and will continue to be, the long-term partner of preference - a preference not based on short term-term economic deals, but based on shared values and common long-term objectives," he argued.
In Brookes' view, the U.S. had work to do "if Washington wants to neutralize China's growing influence in Western Hemisphere."
"An effective strategy would include expanding its own free trade network, helping friendly nations develop strong market economies, and fostering closer, more cooperative security relations with our Latin American and Caribbean neighbors," he said.
Indiana Republican Rep. Dan Burton, chairman of the subcommittee holding the hearing, said the U.S. "must work in earnest" to prevent China's influence from unraveling U.S.-backed reforms in the region.
"The traditional goals of U.S. policy in Latin America have always included promoting political stability, promoting democracy, increasing access to markets, and preventing the rise of a hegemonic power," he said.
"Until we know the definitive answer to this question of whether China will play by the rules of fair trade, and engage responsibly on trans-national issues, I believe we should be cautious and view the rise of Chinese power as something to be counterbalanced or contained - and perhaps go so far as to consider China's actions in Latin America as the movement of a hegemonic power into our hemisphere."
Oh my, China is going around offering...MONEY! Dollar bills! $100 billion bucks. Wow. We go there and beat them with a stick, demanding they pay us interest and principal or else. The pictures of Argentinians digging in garbage for food while we lectured them about running up national and personal debt....
Take a good look at these middle class looters, this is our possible future