Published: 14:38, March 1, 2024 | Updated: 14:46, March 1, 2024
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US to blame for LAC countries' aloofness
By China Daily

The Atlantic Council, a think tank based in Washington, has recently released a report titled "Redefining US Strategy with Latin America and the Caribbean for a New Era" that urges Washington to overhaul its strategy toward Latin America to effectively challenge China's growing influence in the region.

China has become the region's second-largest trading partner and third-largest investment source since 2012. The report fails to provide any evidence showing that burgeoning economic and trade cooperation threatens US interests or the US' relations with the region.

The challenges the US faces in Latin America, as the report acknowledges, are of its own making.

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That being said, it is the US' own reduced engagement with the region, which has led to the LAC region strengthening its cooperation with not only China, but also Russia, Middle East countries, Japan and Europe. So the proposals the think tank put forward in the report for the US to outcompete China in Latin America totally miss the point.

On the one hand, the US cannot replace China to help Latin America consume its exports of mineral resources, energy and agricultural products, all of which the US also exports to China. On the other hand, the US cannot replace China to provide the region with electric vehicles, mechanical equipment and spare parts, steel, chemicals and other industrial products, as well as consumer goods, which are also what the US imports from China in large amounts.

Also, due to their focus on quick returns and lack of concern for local development, US enterprises and capital are reluctant to make long-term investments in the region, particularly in the large infrastructure projects the region needs.

With a focus on such infrastructure, China has so far signed memorandums of understanding on the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative with 22 Latin American and Caribbean countries, and signed cooperation plans on the joint construction of the initiative with six of them.

China's cooperation with the region does not target any third party and promotes common development of the region. After being harnessed by the US under the Monroe Doctrine for so long, many Latin American countries have developed a strong desire to maintain their strategic autonomy.

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All of China's projects in the countries are carried out on an equal footing and are of a win-win nature, rather than serving as a foothold for it to control the region.

The report underlines the significance of the US realigning on "shared values and interests" with Latin America. But the condescending manner of Washington in its free trade deal talks with regional countries, and its empty promises to them in the regional summits the US has hosted over the past few years all serve to indicate that the US still regards the region as a dumping ground for its products and a source of troubles and illegal immigrants.

Before the border walls and barbed wires are dismantled, which just tell how different the US thinks its values and interests are from those living on the other side of them, the report is nothing but empty talk.