Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Latin America-China relations

It is signed, sealed and delivered—Chilean President Bachelet signed a free trade agreement with China, after both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate approved it. It will go into effect within 60 days.

Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is in Beijing, negotiating agreements for oil exploration and building a fiber-optic communications network with the help of the Chinese government.

There is no doubt that China’s economic influence in Latin America is growing. For a number of years, some have argued that this represents a security threat to the U.S., with the most prominent past example being all the rumors that the Chinese government was plotting to take over the Panama Canal.

I’m not convinced that the expansion of Chinese companies, trade deals, and investment translates into a security threat. Last semester, one of my students wrote a good paper on the topic, but my main critique was that he assumed that connection without adequately explaining it. At this point, it seems to be a natural result of economic growth in the region. I’m not even ready to see anything sinister in the Venezuela-China ties (unlike the Venezuela-Russia deals, which are wasting enormous amounts of money on weapons).

2 comments:

CompPoli 6:20 PM  

Do you see anything sinister in the ties that Chavez is globe-trotting in order to build? There, I believe, lies a security threat of a massive caliber.

Looking at Chavez's endeavors from a complete view, we see that he is aligning himself with some of the world's most oppresive regimes and making sure to get the photo-ops to prove it. Putin, Castro, Khatami, al-Assad, and now China, (or any other outright or borderline dictator) seems to have no problem finding a place on Chavez's dance card. I'm sure a phone call or two have been placed to N. Korea, (Jong-il), from the tyrannical offices of Hugo.

I see your emphasis of this posting was in reference to China and it's growing involvement with Latin-America. I'm concerned though that more observation wasn't placed with just whom China is entertaining.

[sidebar] I do not think referring to democratically elected Chavez as tyrannical is overboard due to his recent position toward the mulit-national corporations, namely the oil companies, which were operating within his borders.

Please, do not think that I believe that I have it all figured out. Far from it, that is why I am in your class, plus many others dealing with Political Science. Nor, do I simply regurgitate a certain political view without contemplating it first myself. See you in class...CompPoli

Greg Weeks 7:33 PM  

I'd need to define "sinister." The issue is whether trade ties automatically mean a security threat. If Chávez is making deals with China, Iran, et al., does this pose a threat to the security of the U.S.? If so, in exactly what manner?

As for the question of where China is seeking deals, the main answer (given the FTA) is Chile, which is one of the most stable countries in Latin America.

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