Friday, February 12, 2016

China's Role in Latin America

It's almost as if Americans need to feel some sort of threat in Latin America. Losing the Soviet Union left a void. Iran is a popular choice, of course, but so is China. So we have this from a CNN Money reporter:

China and Latin America fit well together despite their recent economic turmoil. China needs raw materials like iron, oil, soy and all types of food. Latin America has lots of that. 
China also uses its investment in Latin America as a source of jobs for Chinese workers. Many of the infrastructure projects in Latin America that China finances come with a caveat: Chinese workers get the job.
But then you also have this, from Evan Ellis:

China’s relationship with the region is arguably now entering a new phase, marked by diminished expectations and greater pragmatism on both sides. The deceleration of China’s GDP growth to 6.8%, and perhaps less, has contributed to falling international commodity prices, imposing costs felt particularly by those states which have most benefited from exporting petroleum, mining and agriculture products to China. Weakening industrial demand in China may lead its petroleum and mining companies to postpone programmed investments in Latin America, the Caribbean and elsewhere, where the terms of their concessions allow them to do so. 
Falling revenues from exports to China, fewer Chinese petroleum and mining investments, and greater competition from Chinese product exporters and construction companies will increase the degree to which China is seen as a competitor, more than a source of opportunity, in Latin America and the Caribbean.

So we have two very different appraisals of the same phenomenon. On the one hand, you have voracious China trying to elbow the U.S. out and provide employment for Chinese workers. On the other, you have a pragmatic relationship that has hit significant snags of various types.

The first argument inevitably includes discussion of how the U.S. is losing influence, and readers of this blog know that I disagree with that. But alarmist arguments are sexier and get more hits.


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