China is making a play in Latin America, helping underwrite the economies of two oil-rich, leftist countries suffering under the reality of plunging global oil prices. The Wall Street Journal:
Following a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolás Maduro announced bilateral accords that would bring $20 billion in new investment to Venezuela. Ecuador said it secured $7.5 billion in financing.Both Mr. Maduro and his Ecuadorian counterpart, Rafael Correa, were in Beijing along with officials from various Latin American nations to take part in a regional gathering.
While China is turning down the temperature in Asia for tactical reasons, it still wants to become a global superpower. In Latin America, its commercial and political interests go hand in hand. China needs the raw materials that Ecuador and Venezuela have, so what better time to step in than when prices are low and sellers are desperate?At the same time, while China can easily look like a dangerous bully to its Asian neighbors, it can look like a prince to Latin lefties in the shadow of Uncle Sam. And if the U.S. Is making trouble for China in Asia, why shouldn’t China stir the pot in Latin America?But overall, this is a commercial play, and one important bit of evidence for this interpretation is Cuba. If China’s top goal were to make trouble for the U.S. in its neighborhood, it would be bankrolling Castro. But it hasn’t, and the inability of the Castros to get China to replace Venezuela as a sugar daddy is one of the reasons, as far as one can see, that Cuba has decided to move a little closer to the U.S.