But Foreign Minister Wang was been careful to explain how this proposed Latin Belt and Road program will benefit the Latin American region. "It has nothing to do with geopolitical competition," he said. "It follows the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration. It is nothing like a zero-sum game."
In the end, China's geopolitical rewards will end up positively riling the Trump administration, which has taken its eye off the ball in its own backyard. Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, decided to hit the road a few days after the China-Latin America summit in Santiago with pit stops in Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, and Jamaica.
He underlined the Monroe Doctrine as a cornerstone of US policy in the region. "[It] clearly has been a success, because ... what binds us together in this hemisphere are shared democratic values.""Imperial powers"
Tillerson then bashed China, saying Latin America "does not need new imperial powers." The Global Times stressed how Tillerson "showed disdain" to China's "constructive approach." "China has no military bases in the region and has dispatched no troops to any of the Latin American countries," it said.
Tillerson most of all bashed Venezuela. He suggested sanctions aimed at "the regime" and not "the Venezuela people," and claimed that President Nicolas Maduro could face a military coup even though Washington was not gunning for a regime change.
In fact, doubts persist on whether President Donald Trump will even show up at the next Summit of the Americas in April in Peru. The contrast is stark with President Xi, who has visited three times since 2012.
Still, a rash of academic papers has shown how Brazil and Argentina have reoriented their foreign policy from a "pro-South" stance towards a pro-US neoliberal view. Yet, China keeps advancing -- geoeconomically and geopolitically.
And that appears to be a trend. Washington will need to invest in a much more sophisticated game if it is to compete economically against China. That would turn out to be the ideal trade and investment scenario which would profit Latin America the most.
Public opinion seems to have made up its mind. Across Latin America, according to a Gallup poll, approval of US foreign policy has dropped from 49% in 2016 to 24% last year. Approval of President Trump stands at a dismal 16%.
In sharp contrast, China's investment through the Belt and Road Initiative has given President Xi a distinct advantage.
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