US should be happy to see its neighbors prosper in China-Latin America cooperation: Global Times editorial
Published: Jan 16, 2022 11:39 PM
Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

Recently, the US Congress, US military and some media have stepped up their exaggerated hype of the so-called "dangers of Chinese expansion in the Western Hemisphere." They slander China, claiming it is "circling Central America like a vulture" and regard China-Latin America cooperation as China's "takeover of Latin America." The latest US National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 also focused on China's "influence" in Latin America.

Such clamor first of all shows great disrespect toward Latin American countries, reflecting Washington's arrogance in disregarding the sovereignty of Latin American countries. For example, when it criticizes China's "takeover of Latin America," Washington actually means "Latin America is under my control." In reality, the vulture that is circling Central America is no other but the US itself. For a long time, the US has regarded Latin America as its own "backyard," claiming itself the lord of Latin American countries without consent. Whether it's the "Monroe Doctrine" or the "New Monroe Doctrine," the relationship between the US and Latin America is about control and counter-control. Such an axis has never changed. This is the root cause of why Washington is so nervous about the China-Latin America relations.

Some US media reported that the total trade volume between China and Latin America was only $18 billion in 2002, but it reached nearly $316 billion in 2019, and China is the largest trading partner of Brazil, Chile, Peru and Uruguay. Based on these numbers, they believe it shows China's "expansion" is heading for America's "backyard." This is meant to mislead the world in a superficial way. But the trade volume between China and the world has generally increased, which is a natural result of the continuous increase in the size of China's economy. For example, from 2002 to 2019, the trade volume between China and the EU jumped from $86.76 billion to over $700 billion. At present, China is the largest trading partner of more than 120 countries and regions in the world. Why can't there be several Latin American countries among these countries? Does Washington think that Latin America should be a "vacuum" of globalization?

Latin American countries have their own sovereignty and their right to legitimate development. In fact, even US scholars have to admit that in the past, Latin American countries would be in crisis whenever something bad happened in the US. But with the cooperation with China, their economies did not decline even when the financial crisis broke out in the US. From January to September 2021, China's trade with Latin American countries reached $331.88 billion, an increase of 45.5 percent year-on-year. More and more countries in this region have signed Belt and Road Cooperation Agreements or Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with China, hoping to ride on the train of China's economic development. Why is it that even when the world economy is "cold and windy," the pragmatic cooperation between China and Latin America is still "springing up?" Because this cooperation is based on equality and reciprocity, common development, and it is naturally equipped with strong endogenous power. 

In sharp contrast, Washington never examined what it has brought to Latin America, instead it has only prompted the hegemonic logic that "anyone who goes against me has to die." Right now, the US has a new criterion for judging a country's compliance, which is its attitude toward China. Countries actively developing relations with China are harassed and bullied by the US, with the most typical tactic to smear the governments of those countries, pronouncing that they are "autocracies" and they maintain ties with "drug cartels" and "terrorists" in a bid to shake and even overthrow those China-friendly regimes through a strong public opinion campaign. Washington often talks about a "rules-based international order," but there has never been a single modern international rule that would allow the US to delimit its sphere of influence and control Latin American countries.

 "So far from God and so close to the US!" The words that have been circulating for years can still resonate powerfully with countries in Latin America. In recent years, Washington has made many promises to help Latin America's development due to "external pressure." However, in the context that US domestic conflicts are difficult to resolve, those promises were made in high-profile gestures but quietly let go. They not only failed to bring impetus to Latin America, but also made Washington feel the strain financially. Last year, Washington announced it would offer $4 billion in aid to develop Central America with a purpose to "counter China's influence" in the region. But the infrastructure investment gap in Latin America is estimated at around $150 billion per year. Regardless of how much these petty handouts can solve the problem, Washington's desire to sway the options of Latin American countries through aid fully reveals its selfishness. 

As a Chinese saying goes, neighbors wish each other well, just as loved ones do to each other. As a matter of fact, the development of mutually beneficial cooperative relations between Latin America and countries including China will promote the region's stability and prosperity, and are in line with the US' national interests. Unrest and deep poverty in any Latin American country will inevitably lead to tens of thousands of refugees flocking to the southern border of the US, which will not only create humanitarian disasters in the border areas, but also provoke divisive political disputes in the US. Washington should be happy to see its neighbors become better off rather than pointing an accusing finger at them with a sour grape mentality. It should discard old illusions and attempts at resuming the "Monroe Doctrine" which was already spurned by history.