China-LatAm ties product of globalization

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/11/17 23:38:39

Chinese President Xi Jinping embarked on a state visit Thursday to Ecuador, Peru and Chile. During the tour, Xi will also attend the 24th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting in Lima, capital of Peru. The Sino-Latin American relationship has been put under the spotlight.

Latin America is geographically the furthest continent for China, yet ties between the two have been developing rapidly over the years. China is currently Latin America's second-largest trading partner as well as the third-largest investor, with a bilateral trade volume reaching $236.5 billion in 2015. Influenced by the sluggish global economy, the trade volume between China and Latin America has also witnessed a fall. However, collaboration in industrial capacity and infrastructure construction in Latin America are considered as new cooperative fields with great potential for the two sides to get closer.

The Financial Times has lately published an article titled "Trump builds walls, Xi builds bridges in LatAm." It showed a typical Western perspective by comparing the Chinese and US relationships with the continent through a geopolitical lens. In fact, ties between China and Latin America are based on the principle of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. The starting point of China in developing its relations with Latin American countries is obviously different from the scheme the US used when developing its ties with Beijing's neighboring nations, such as Vietnam and Myanmar. By comparison, Washington should be ashamed of its rebalance to the Asia-Pacific strategy.

Many would think of the Monroe Doctrine when it comes to Latin America. As a US president in the 1820s, James Monroe's idea of barring European nations from establishing spheres of influence in the continent defined the era. Latin America was thus considered as the US' backyard for quite a long time. But such a mindset is falling behind the times.

China-Latin America relations do not target the US as many US pundits who believe in the Monroe Doctrine have depicted. China-Latin America economic cooperation has given Latin American countries an alternative in diplomacy, and more leverage to bargain with the US over some other interests. Every developing country can benefit from globalization. This is not an arranged geopolitical game. 

Latin American countries are unlikely to break with the US. Globalization has given them the possibility to develop a balanced relationship with major powers. China is committed to fostering amiable cooperative ties with Latin American countries without pursuing special ties with particular countries. It is also rare for Chinese public opinion to suggest that China should leverage its relationship with Latin America for trade off the US' compromise in West Pacific. Even in the US, comments about how Washington should compete with Beijing for Latin America are not in the mainstream. The prospects for China-Latin America relations are certain. The relationship won't be impacted by how Latin American countries interact with the US. In comparison with the China-Latin America relationship, it's noticeable  how many unhealthy elements there are in the bonds between the US and some ASEAN countries, something Washington and its Asia-Pacific allies perhaps are still proud of, but they do not fit the era of globalization.



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