China "expands its influence" in Latin America and the Caribbean and "manipulate" to their governments through "predatory investment practices"Two United States generals warned this Wednesday.
the chinese government "continues to expand its economic, diplomatic, technological, informational and military influence in Latin America and the Caribbean"General Laura Richardson, head of the Southern Command, told Congress.
the asian colossus "has the ability and intention" of "promote their brand of authoritarianism and amass power and influence at the expense of these democracies"he lamented before the armed services committee at a hearing on security challenges in the Americas.
For now "it has expanded its ability to extract resources, establish ports, manipulate governments through predatory investment practices, and build potential dual-use space facilities"he assured.
The general told the congressmen that the Latin American leaders "they are desperate for their economies" After having suffered the full blow of the pandemic and, since they usually remain in power for a single term, they are in a hurry.
"When there is nothing else available, there is no Western or international investment or bidders in the tenders that come out, when there are large projects for critical infrastructures and there are only Chinese bidders (…) they have no choice"he claimed.
General Glen D. VanHerck, head of the northern command, nodded.
"We should be very concerned about Chinese investment throughout the Western Hemisphere."he said, and specified that only in Mexico, Chinese companies such as Huawei supply around 80% of telecommunications.
In the Bahamas they also chase "aggressively" their financial goals and "They built the largest embassy in the world"added VanHerck.
Richardson criticized the effects of the Belt and Road Initiative, also known as the New Silk Road, a global infrastructure development strategy launched by Beijing.
At a time when Latin American countries "they try to get out of the hole" China appears with billions of dollars available for large projects that "They look like investments but it’s all in critical infrastructure".
"Amazingly in space, telecommunications, and deep-sea ports. You have to wonder why"he ironized.
To counter Chinese influence, Richardson advocates for the United States to be more proactive and "pay more attention to this region".
"We are working hard to speed up the process" because "our allies see how quickly we can get equipment into Ukraine" and "we have to be able to send a coastal patrol vessel or a maritime patrol plane within two or three years"held.
China is not its only rival in the region, but also Russia, which "reinforces authoritarian regimes" as "Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela and continues its extensive campaign of disinformation"said the general.
According to her both countries "exploit the presence of transnational criminal organizations and amplify their destabilizing impact on democratic governments".
In another congressional committee that addressed global threats, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), William J. Burns, warned of the risks of technological dependence in the region.
They can "becoming sort of one-dimensional economies increasingly dependent on exporting commodities to China, they incur debts that will also complicate their own economic growth in a sustainable manner over time"warning.
According to him, China, the main trading partner of some Latin American countries, "tries to erode" Washington’s influence in the area, which is why he recommends "work hard" case by case to prevent it.