Op-Ed Contributors

Latin America ties prosper

By Sun Hongbo (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-08-23 08:06
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China and Latin American countries should jointly maintain and support the legitimate interest of developing countries.

The strategic influence of rapidly evolving China-Latin America relations has become prominent as China rises to become a world power and the Latin American countries gain higher international status.

After President Hu Jintao paid a successful visit to Latin America in November 2004, the United States became highly concerned about booming China-Latin America ties.

Washington has been trying to determine China's interest and strategic intention in the region, and has included China-Latin America relations into its global strategic framework in order to appraise its long-term implications for the US interests.

During the fourth round of talks between China and the US on Western Hemisphere issues, Arturo Valenzuela, the US assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said that Washington does not view China as a threat in Latin America and made positive appraisals of China-Latin America economic and trade ties.

The US has had to accept the fact that relations between China and many Latin American countries have blossomed and it is acclimatizing to China's existence in the region and trying to position it in a number of areas.

Washington wants Beijing to play a positive role in economic and trade relations, as China's contribution to a stable and prosperous Latin America is in its own interest. Meanwhile, in regional governance issues, such as natural disaster relief, employment supply and environmental protection, China is expected to assume more international responsibilities in the region, so as to share some of the burden that Washington has traditionally carried.

However, with the expansion of China's presence in Latin America and two-way cross-cultural exchanges, the US is paying close attention to the influence of the "China model" and China's "soft power" in the region, which it believes could pose a threat to US influence.

In terms of strategic and security interests, the US has been keeping a sharp eye on China's engagement with Latin America. What currently concerns the US is Latin America's strategic leverage significance for China, which it thinks might be utilized by Beijing to force Washington to make compromises in Asian affairs.

In the post-financial crisis era, the interrelationship between Washington's Latin America and its Asian-Pacific policies is strengthening, and the "China factor" is at the core of its strategic consideration.

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