August 23rd, 2010 | China Daily Latin America ties prosper
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.
At the regional level, China cannot extricate its peaceful development from various suspicions, restrictions and even containment from the Western hegemony dominating the international system. But the development of the China-Latin America relationship doesn’t target “a third party”, so China and Latin American countries should develop their ties in an independent way, as they are an inevitable result of economic globalization and the multi-polarization of international politics.
With its fast growth, China has been increasingly attractive to Latin American countries and has become an important destination for them to diversify their foreign relations and economic and trade cooperation. During 2001 to 2008, China established strategic partnerships with Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina and Peru. China and Brazil forged a strategic partnership in 1993.
Thanks to the ascendant status of emerging economies, the differentiation and recombination of different powers on the international arena are accelerating, and this process will produce significant influence on the pattern of international power division.
Given the current complicated and volatile international situation, China and Latin American countries could benefit from relying on each other strategically.
In many multilateral occasions, including United Nations reform, international financial system reform, the Doha round of WTO negotiations and climate change talks under the UN framework, China and Latin American countries share common view and both sides could positively coordinate their stance and further expand cooperation.
China has established a sound consultation and dialogue mechanism with most Latin American countries concerning fields like politics, trade, science and education. The institutional building of bilateral relations will further facilitate good relations.
For example, in order to strengthen trade cooperation with Caribbean countries, China initiated the creation of the China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum. Strategic dialogue mechanisms were also established between China and Brazil and China and Mexico to strengthen these strategic partnerships.
With the sharing of more common interests, China and Latin American countries should support each other and jointly maintain the legitimate interest of developing countries both in deepening bilateral relations and in enhancing multilateral cooperation on global issues.
China and Latin American countries should also further expand strategic consensus and deepen mutual trust, so as to propel the new international political and economic arrangement toward the direction conducive to developing countries.
The author is a researcher with the Institute of Latin American Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
By Sun Hongbo