The Chinese regime is working to massively increase its sphere of influence in Latin America, and its “reckless policies would surely destroy the region in the next few years,” Indian news site Firstpost reported in early April.
“Beijing uses its economic strength in Latin America to pressure and meet its geopolitical interests and uses bribes to break the decisions of some governments to have ties with Taiwan,” Jorge Serrano, a member of the advisory team of Peru’s Congressional Intelligence Commission, told Diálogo on May 5.
Under its “one China” policy, Beijing has been working to increase its influence, insuring that less and less countries worldwide recognize Taiwan. Of the 13 countries that do so, seven are in Latin America, a crucial region for Beijing to impose its hegemony, Firstpost reported.
China refuses to have a relationship with governments that recognize the island as independent, the BBC reported. The last Latin American countries to break diplomatic ties with Taiwan were Panama, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and more recently Honduras, which officially turned toward China in late March 2023.
Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Reina said the decision was rather due to “pragmatism, not ideology,” Reuters reported. Reina said that Honduras is “up to its neck” in financial problems. Tegucigalpa owes Taiwan some $600 million, a debt which partly motivated Honduras to open relations with China, the minister said, according to the BBC.
The Chinese regime’s trade pattern indicates that it “is colonizing Latin American countries,” Firstpost reported. Latin American exports to Beijing consist of oil, copper, soybeans, minerals, and other raw materials to support Chinese industrial development.
Since 2018, China has been doling out huge million-dollar loans, engaging in “debt-trap diplomacy” to boost its Belt and Road initiative, expand trade and territorial access in Latin American countries that have sufficient energy or natural resources, Indiciales, a magazine of Mexico’s Sonora University, reported.
But more problematic is the fact that it is Beijing that sets the rules and standards for its actions, because it is precisely the absence of checks and balances in its development model that fuels abuses, the Latin American platform Diálogo Político indicated for its part.
“China seeks to directly take control of strategic companies and sectors in Latin America such as energy, ports, airports, and minerals such as lithium,” Serrano said. “Peru is one such example, where there is a cartel of Chinese companies that win almost all major contracts in infrastructure construction in a corrupt manner, paying bribes and using industrial espionage.”
Decades after the Chinese state began its internationalization, the bad practices and low standards of state-owned companies are habitual and affect all of the Americas, Diálogo Político reported.
“Now China has 100 percent control of electric power in Lima despite the fact that in Peru there is a law that prohibits monopoly,” Serrano said. “Congress is going to initiate an investigation, as they also want to build another mega-port in the country.”
China’s growing demand for mineral and agricultural resources made several Latin American countries dependent on a single partner and transformed local landscapes with a heavy carbon footprint, French international news network France 24 reported.
In February, the Collective on Chinese Finance and Investment, Human Rights, and Environment (CICDHA) presented to the United Nations the “serious abuses” of human rights and environmental impact of 14 Chinese megaprojects in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela.
“Peruvian communities around the Chinese port construction in Chancay, constantly denounce that Chinese businessmen damage and affect core environmental protection areas for fauna and flora,” Serrano said. “They are wiping out the entire fishing capacity.”
“There is no doubt that China’s objective is to completely devour the prey […] eat it completely, that’s Beijing’s new way of acting in the region,” Serrano said. “China knows which many Latin American companies are weak and is hunting those companies, playing dirty, and using a lot of industrial espionage.”
“The result of Chinese meddling can be seen in Bolivia, Cuba, and Venezuela. China has bought the souls of the rulers of those nations,” Serrano added. “It has given them loans for the future, but in the end it has not improved the quality of life of the populations.”
“We are looking at a sample of the whole negative package that countries that have allied themselves with China are reaping. That’s the message of what you get with that tie with the Chinese regime: dictatorial, anti-democratic governments, and terrible economic crises,” he concluded.