Chinese Influence Grows in Latin America

Deal by deal, Sino-South American relationships erode U.S. clout
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2009 9:58 AM CDT
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, right, shakes hands with China's Vice President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony at Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas,Venezuela.   (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
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(Newser) – Stepping into a gap created by the 1-2 punch of Bush administration neglect and worldwide recession, China is pumping billions of dollars into Latin America, helping to shore up slowing economies while the US plays catch-up in the region, the New York Times reports. "This is how the balance of power shifts quietly during times of crisis," said a Clinton-era Commerce Department official.

"The loans are an example of the checkbook power in the world moving to new places," he continued, "with the Chinese becoming more active.” As Washington’s influence erodes, China has become Latin America’s second-largest trading partner. Recent overtures have helped Beijing gain long-term access to Venezuelan and Brazilian oil as well as an alternative to investing in US Treasuries.