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China’s sudden kindness towards Latin American states: A Trojan horse?

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Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the closing session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China May 28, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

The story of China’s growing influence over the global economy is widely known. While some nations have actively meditated to curb or at least mitigate the influence; others have gladly welcomed the Chinese investments into their domestic affairs to their own detriment. Where the South-East Asian countries are teeming with products produced in China, the influence has been a little less pronounced in the Western nations. Despite this, there is a particular section of the world, which is in no way culturally amicable to China, but has seen a surge in the influx of Chinese items and ideas within the territory. The countries of Latin America have found in China, an ideological mate and a benevolent donor, albeit momentarily.

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China’s quickly developing economic and trade relations with a range of nations in Latin America and the Caribbean are a cause for concern. The movement of that change and the trouble of observing it have brought up real issues about what sort of impact China has had on the area’s monetary and political turn of events. In view of access to information, the current levels of Chinese trade and interest in the locale have had significant consequences for enabling both great and awful strategic choices by Latin American governments.

Shouldn’t something be said about China’s effect on the region’s international affairs? Past its direct and indirect effects on the area’s financial and administration circuits, China’s monetary statecraft, likewise, contains its own international aspirations. This should not shock anyone. The 32 states of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) offer various open doors for improving the overall atmosphere for China’s “harmonious rise” on the world scene.

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The Chinese attempts at courting the Latin American states over the last few years indicate theimportance Beijing is puttingto allynot just monetarily, but, through social, political and security collaborations as well.China’s motive behind affiliating with Latin America is to unite with other powerful forces in the world, especially from the global South to emerge successful – by leveraging on the shared hostility towards the dominance of the US and desire to overthrow the current international order.

In the recent years, China’s engagement in the Latin American nations have increased rapidly. In December last year, El Salvador’s president announced that China had agreed to “gigantic, non-refundable cooperation” with his country, where China is investing an undisclosed sum in several infrastructural projects, including a stadium, water-treatment plant, and tourist progression.
Two weeks later, Argentina’s government said that it was going to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which would make it the first of the area’s four significant economies to do as such. This shows how deep China is penetrating within the Latin American territory.

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China is also giving out loans and wrapping up lease agreements in the region, which is alarming because of the collateral conditions imposed by China on such loans. In terms of leases, China structures them (on the foreign soil) in a way that the host nation has very limited access to the resource/property that is leased, and the host-nation has negligible involvement in the decisions surrounding those leases. In a deal with a US partner nation in the Caribbean, China consented to assemble a street across the country as a trade-off for rights to thousands of acres of land that borders the road and the capacity to control the costs and tolls on that road for the next ninety-nine years.

The world has plenty of examples on what happens if the benefactor is not able to repay the loan amount within the stipulated time to China – they lose their territorial autonomy, integrity and sovereignty.

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This is precisely what may happen while making dealings with China. Rather than opting for fair means which would allow it to become a much valued global economy, China resorts to tricking its target nations. By arbitrarily controlling the resources and the economy of small and developing countries around the world, China is seeking to colonize almost the entire world, wherein, the host-nations will have little to no autonomy in the process of making decisions.

While it will not be a cakewalk for Latin America to rule out China from the economic and financial radar, given its stature in the international market; it would definitely be a prudent to not portray an untrue global image of unequal alliance.

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