China and Russia Across the Latin America

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Baku, 7 May 2015 –

It is a fact that China has become more consistent and energetic in the pursuit of a superpower status in the aftermath of the dissolution of the USSR. And China has all the reasons for that: leadership position in terms of demographics, dynamically developing economy, international trade with global outreach and ever-growing gold and foreign exchange reserves that are crucial for the stability of the international financial system, including the one of the United States. China can rightfully pride itself with the largest army in the world, impressive and continuously evolving missile-nuclear capabilities and achievements in the field of space technologies.

The first decade of the XXI century saw China’s unrelenting and multifaceted expansion across Latin America, which traditionally was regarded as the "backyard'' of the U.S. Chinese colossus has seriously embarked upon the "exploration'' of open spaces from Mexico to Patagonia.

Beijing chose Venezuela as a "base country'' on the Latin-American continent. Initially, rapprochement between PRC and Venezuela was largely centered on securing long-term contracts on oil and gas supply. In the meantime, Chinese envoys have been successfully building bridges of mutually beneficial cooperation with all the countries of the region, with even the island nations of the Caribbean basin getting their fair share of attention. At modern stage, China is shifting from bilateral to multilateral format of relations with the Latin-American countries, similar to what it has already been doing in Africa.

Moreover, China’s geopolitical and financial-economic expansion is accompanied by the migration flows of excessive Chinese population to the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean basin nations. Chinese communities have become a distinctive feature of the provincial towns and villages in the Latin America.

That being said, former President of PRC Hu Jintao was using ever opportunity to assure that "neither today nor in the future, regardless of its development level, China would not pursue hegemony, military expansion and arms race, and not pose a threat to any nation''. Meanwhile Beijing is doing everything possible to forge dynamic military-technical cooperation with the regional countries. While selecting partners, ideological hurdles are dismissed, and solvency becomes a major condition. It must be noted that China was involved in the arms trade, well in advance of its "great march'' upon the Latin America.

Presently, China and the number of Latin-American countries are cooperating in such fields as energy, infrastructure construction, agriculture, industrial productions and technological innovation. Being world’s second largest economy, China is buying oil from Venezuela, copper from Peru and Chile, and soya from Argentina and Brazil. PRC is also viewing significant increase in investments into the Latin America. In the next ten years, China plans to invest $250 billion and the number could reach $500 billion by 2025. During his Central and Latin America tour – Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba - that took place in late July-early August 2014, President Xi Jinping attended the first summit of the leaders of China and the Community of Latin-American and Caribbean States. That event saw unveiling of the namesake forum and the establishment of a regional fund worth $35 billion. Chinese leader also proposed to build a trans-Amazon railroad, to connect Peru and Brazil, as well as announcing tens of other trade and investment projects.

Similar to Russia, Chinas is currently undertaking an extensive effort aimed at rapprochement with the Latin America – something that according to "The Trumpet'' could potentially translate into "geopolitical transformation'' at the United States’ doorstep. "In recent years, China and Russia have been dancing with increasing vigor to the rhythms of Latin American trade and diplomacy. The two Eastern giants want business allies, resources and friends who share their desire to close the curtain on the era of United States dominance''.

Russia in turn, is trying not to fall behind its Asian neighbor. In the recent decade, Russia has aimed to regain the footing in the Latin America that was established by the USSR during the Cold War era. The efforts have particularly intensified in the aftermath of sanctions by the U.S. and Europe and prompted Moscow to rivet its attention to the Latin-American markets. In June 2014, President Putin paid a six-day visit across the Latin-American countries with stopovers in Cuba, Argentina, Brazil and Nicaragua, where he offered to build a GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) and spoke of investment projects. All of this proves that Russia’s relevance in the Latin America is surpassing the level of its presence there in the Cold War years.

Overall, Chinese and Russian presence in the Latin America in the first decades of the XXI century is growing exponentially and across the wide range of directions. Moreover, China and Russia are yet to compete in the region, whereas their increasing presence in the Latin America could, in the long-run, relegate the U.S. to the background.

Parvin Darabadi,

Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor


1) Экспансия Китая в Латинской Америке / Фонд Стратегической Культуры, 20 April 2010

2) Китай планирует инвестировать в Латинскую Америку $250 млрд / Корреспондент.net, 8 January 2015

3) СМИ: Россия и Китай отодвигают США на второй план в Латинской Америке / РИА Новости, 06 February 2015

4) Китай укрепляет позиции в Латинской Америке / La Nacion Argentina, (Аргентина), 22 July 2014

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