“As Donald Trump weighs plans to tear up trade deals and deport illegal migrants from Latin America, Chinese President Xi Jinping is moving swiftly to reset relations in America’s backyard.
Xi returned from a Latin American swing last week having lavished Ecuador with $10 billion in energy and infrastructure deals, and bestowed Ecuador and Chile with China’s highest diplomatic status. He told Peru’s Congress relations were “standing at a new historical starting point.” While attending a summit in Lima with his lame duck U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama, he cast China as the region’s most eager trade advocate.
The Chinese leader’s trip highlighted how Trump’s surprise election win was tipping the geopolitical scales even before the Republican takes office with his “America First” platform. Until the vote, China had grappled with how to advance its more than 15-year foray into the traditional U.S. sphere, as its demand for commodities slows and left-wing political allies face setbacks in the region.
Now China finds itself in position to become Latin America’s primary growth driver, increasing its chances of surpassing the U.S. as the region’s largest trading partner. Trump, meanwhile, is vowing to crack down on immigration from places like Mexico and withdraw the U.S. from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact, which includes Chile, Mexico and Peru.”