While much of the attention of US foreign policy pundits is focused on Communist China’s bullying of its neighbors, US allies, in the region of the South China Sea and the wider Indo-Pacific, with a focus on military and security problems, Beijing is flexing its geopolitical muscle in our own back yard by pouring giant infrastructure investments in Latin America and increasingly dominating its trade.

Giant dubious loans, skyrocketing trade

Since 2005, China has poured about $140 billion in infrastructure investments in Latin American countries, funding projects from ports, railways, and phone networks to roads and dams, The Daily Mail reported.

On top of that, those aren’t development aid grants but actual loans to the governments of the Latin American nations distributed through China’s three biggest state investment banks, thus potentially buying Beijing even greater political as well as economic influence.

The report notes that nobody really knows how many more billions of dollars have arrived from China in Latin America through technically private contracts and initiatives and hard-to-trace deals.

Official and unofficial large-scale lending and financing aside, the direct trade between China and the Latin American countries has shot up over 25 times in the past 20 years, from $12 billion in 2000 to a whopping $315 billion in 2020.

So much so that in nearly half of the countries in Latin America, China has toppled the US from the position of their largest trading partner, and that is true for most of the biggest economies of the region: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, with Colombia and Mexico being the exceptions.

The fact that China has managed to surpass the US in trade and investment influence in Latin America has various ramifications to Beijing’s benefit.

Among other things, those include isolating Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its province, as Commie China requires total cutting of diplomatic ties with the island republic before it provides giant loans.

One of China’s latest successes in winning lucrative infrastructure deals in Latin America has been in Cuba, where it got a deal to upgrade the fellow communist dictatorship’s power grid.

While it comes quite naturally, considering the Commie brotherhood between China and Cuba, the deal signed under Beijing’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road initiative (formerly called “One Belt, One Road”), is designed to spread tremendously China’s influence all around the globe.

According to former US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Thomas Shannon, China is making inroads in Latin America partly in order to show the United States that it can meddle in our back yard just as we can in its own.

Shannon, who served in the Trump administration from 2016 until 2018, told Time Magazine this was a “way of mirroring and neutralizing” US threats in its own backyard.

Shocking how US doesn’t pay attention to China in Latin America

It’s noted that countries such as Venezuela, Ecuador, and Paraguay have debts with China amounting to over 10% of their GDP.

The same is believed to be true of several small Caribbean nations such as Grenada and the Dominican Republic.

The China-Latin America Finance Database shows that with some $62 billion in loans, Venezuela is the largest recipient of official Chinese money, with Brazil, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, ranked next.

In September, in an interview with Axios, Ecuador’s ambassador to the US, Ivonne Baki said the US is “losing Latin America to China” and it is doing so “without putting up a fight,” while the China Notes newsletter Nicolas Santo has said that he is “shocked” as to how little attention the US has been paying to the China-Latin America topic in the past 10 years.