Latin America arena for global powers

Por • 4 jun, 2013 • Sección: Política

Sun Hongbo

New Chinese President Xi Jinping chose Latin America as part of the destinations for his second state visit, a sign that the new leadership will concentrate more on Latin America’s role and influence in the transforming global pattern.

There are likely to be more major steps forward to tune up Sino-Latin American cooperation. China’s investment in Latin America will be enlarged dramatically, along with a more specific and practical policy aiming to actively balance the different expectations of the interests of both sides.

Obviously, China has become an important strategic partner with Latin America in terms of economic exchanges and foreign affairs.

Compared with other regions such as the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, Latin America is not pivotal in the change of the international pattern. Nevertheless, Latin America is becoming more fully engaged with international affairs.

More importantly, Latin America is no longer constrained to a US-dominated Western hemisphere, but is developing relationships with emerging economies from the rest of the world.

However, challenges still remain in those countries’ China policies in terms of policy coordination and implementation. It requires both China and Latin America to make efforts to guide and design the direction of the bilateral relationship.

It is also unavoidable that Latin America has become an arena for another round of power struggles. The US is trying to regain its influence in Latin America, while Russia, India and Japan, no matter whether out of consideration of Latin America’s resources and market or the need to readjust their foreign policy, are also looking to take a share.

Both traditional powers and emerging economies are looking for leverage in the region.

Every major power is speculating on the changes inside Latin America. The dominant US position in this region has started to decline. Brazil is a rising power, but it is uncertain whether it can establish leadership in this region.

Meanwhile, left-wing governments in Latin America are being challenged over the sustainability of their policies. And most Latin American countries are readjusting their foreign policies for a diverse system of foreign relations.

Major powers are reevaluating their interests and readjusting their policies in this region to compete for influence. But whether they can live up to their own expectations depends on their national strength and future growth, and more importantly, whether they can balance their interests with Latin America’s.

Both China and the US have denied any intention of rivalry in Latin America, but the thriving relationship between China and Latin America has already impacted the traditional US influence over this region.

Latin America has become an unavoidable topic if China and the US want to establish a new pattern of relationship. Setting up mechanisms to enhance communication, negotiation and mutual trust between both countries over this region should be a top priority

More challenges than opportunities will prevail in the future relationship between the US and Latin America. The challenges are mostly left over by history, such as immigration, drug dealing and US policies toward Cuba and Venezuela.

Besides, its domestic policy has blocked the development of its Latin America policy. There might be a strong resistance if the US wants to improve its relationship with Latin America.

For China, it will embrace more opportunities than challenges in this area. Although frictions have taken place in Sino-Latin American economic relationship, they are auspicious signals that the relationship between China and Latin America is in a booming development. These problems, produced by prosperity, will also be addressed amid such development.

Both China and the US are seeking ways to foster a constructive mechanism, so that trilateral cooperation among China, the US, and Latin America will be achieved.

Nonetheless, the trust deficit is the major obstruction that blocks both countries to deepen this cooperation. And China also needs to learn how to better respect Latin America’s interests.

More importantly, all three parties, including China, the US and Latin America, have to find out feasible areas of cooperation.

The author is an associate research fellow at the Institute of Latin American Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Global Times | 2013-6-3

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