Sunday October 20, 2019

PRESIDENT XI JINPING VISITS SOUTH AND CENTRAL AMERICA

July 25, 2014

Last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping began his four-country tour of South and Central America in Brazil, just in time for the BRICS Summit held in the city of Fortaleza. BRICS is an association of developing nations with emerging economies composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and as of 2010, South Africa. Top leaders from each nation, including President Xi Jinping, met on July 15th and 16th.  Also in attendance were leaders and officials of many South American nations, including Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Peru, and Columbia.

According to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the discussions at the summit surrounded the importance of strengthening cooperation between BRICS countries and between BRICS countries and other South American countries. The highlight achievement of the summit was the establishment of a new development bank, aptly named the “New Development Bank,” intended to “finance infrastructure projects” in BRICS nations and in other nations with emerging markets.

The BRICS nations have been trying to reform the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, two of the world’s leading financial institutions, for years to allow emerging economies to have more influence in these institutions, but have had little success. Instead, this development will act as a competitor with the IMF and World Bank. The New Development Bank shows the strong desire for development among the BRICS nations despite disagreements, such as the territorial disputes between India and China. The BRICS nations will share leading roles in the New Development Bank: the headquarters will be established in Shanghai, the first regional center in South Africa, the first chief executive will be Indian, the first chairman of the board of governors will be Russian, and the first chairman of the board of directors will be Brazilian.

After a successful visit to Brazil, President Xi met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in the Venezuelan capital city, Caracas.  Together they “signed a series of oil and mineral deals.” This fueled some analysts’ opinions that China’s true interest in South and Central America stems from a desire to gain natural resources. During the last years the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was in power, China and Venezuela became strategic allies. In the meeting last week, both nations expressed the desire to continue to develop this “comprehensive strategic partnership.”

Last Friday, President Xi met with Argentinean leader Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Xi became the first Chinese president to visit Argentina in ten years though China is Argentina’s second largest trading partner after Brazil. According to the South China Morning Post, Argentina “signed deals to borrow US$7.5 billion from China at a time when the Latin American country cannot tap global capital markets because of disputes over unpaid debt.” President Xi and Fernandez also agreed on a loan from the China Development Bank for the construction of two hydroelectric dams in Patagonia, one of the southernmost regions of South America shared by Chile and Argentina.

Xi Jinping’s last stop was to China’s ally, Cuba. President Xi arrived in Havana on July 21st, and met with President Raul Castro and former president and revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro. China and Cuba already have a strong relationship, with their shared communist system of government and economic ties. Still, both nations have begun dialogue on more opportunities for development.

China’s relationship with South and Central America is largely economic, but this trip also reflects mutual interest in strengthening political engagement between nations of South and Central America and China. China’s ties to the region are increasing through trade, cultural exchanges, and financial assistance. This trip shows that China is asserting its influence in the Western Hemisphere, near the neighboring United States. It will be important to watch how these developments in America’s backyard might affect U.S.-China relations in the future.

 

For more information on President Xi’s trip to South and Central America, see the following news articles:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China-“Xi Jinping Attends Dialogue Between Leaders of BRICS Countries and South American Countries”

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China-“Xi Jinping Delivers Important Speech at National Congress of Brazil-Carry Forward Traditional Friendship and Jointly Open up New Chapter of Cooperation”

The Wall Street Journal-“Brics Agree to Base Development Bank in Shanghai”

South China Morning Post-“Xi Jinping hails ‘new horizons’ for China and Argentina on visit to Buenos Aires”

South China Morning Post-“Xi Jinping calls for closer ties with oil-rich Venezuela”

BBC-“China’s President Xi Jinping signs Venezuela oil deal”

The Diplomat-“Xi Jinping Heads to South America”

The Diplomat-“3 Reasons the BRICS’ New Development Bank Matters”

Xinhua-“Chinese president arrives in Brazil for BRICS summit”

 

For Chinese language news on this topic, see the sources below:

中华人民共和国

南華早報-“习近平称赞“新的视野”为中国和阿根廷的访问布宜诺斯艾利斯”

南華早報-“与盛产石油的委内瑞拉更密切的关系习近平呼吁”

新华-“中国国家主席抵达巴西金砖四国峰会”

 

Compiled and Edited by Erin Monroe