Following a BRICS summit, there was a general summit of Latin American nations with China being the main guest, using “dollar diplomacy” to win friends in essentially is the United State’s back yard. China and Latin America have a long ongoing trade relationship. Trade between Latin America and China exceeds $250 billion per year. The gist of the summit was proposals were made to fund projects. Among these, a lending fund was set up for Brazilian mining companies to build rail and ports as well as shipping acquisition, proposals to fund up to $20 billion in new infrastructure projects around South American, to include a proposed railroad path by Brazil to link to the Pacific Ocean via Peru. Chinese president Xi also got Chinese companies to buy $3.2 billion dollars worth of Brazilian Embraer jets.
Clearly China wants to have influence in Latin America, and presents itself as an alternative to the United States. This will be a difficult path for China, the US has been the leader in the Western hemisphere for centuries, China is a newcomer. While there are at least some cultural similarities between the United States and Latin America, Chinese culture is very different. This causes China to be seen as the “strange foreign power’, which many of the Latin American populace will view with suspicion. On the other hand, relations between Latin America and the United States have often been strained. The United States has a long history of interventionism in Latin America, even to the extent in overthrowing and toppling democratically elected governments when they did not align with US strategic interests and replacing them with oppressive governments. China’s diplomacy on the other hand focuses on trade, does not interfere with the internal affairs of other countries, does not try to impose its values either. For all the oppression that happens in China, it does not try to suppress and overthrow free governments of other sovereign nations to align them with its own political or strategic interests. In short it does not matter if a country is highly liberal or highly oppressed, China conducts its trade the same. Contrary to general American perceptions, most countries don’t like outside interference even from the United States, even well-intended interference. In short, China’s non-intervention policy is very appealing to the Latin American countries who still remember the constant interference from the United States.
This business potential from this summit could be enormous. Particularly if the infrastructure gets built. Latin America could experience significant growth over the next few years, making it an attractive market to export to. This includes a broad array of sectors; IT, telecommunications, industrial, agriculture, defense, etc. Latin America certainly is worth watching over the next few years.