- China is a major customer of Latin American commodities
- To shore up its position, it has made big investments in the region
- These investments have gotten it tangled in the region’s politics
- China may become more aggressive in trying to bend these countries to its will
Over the past two decades, China has become a major player in Latin America. The process began slowly, but as the Chinese economy began to hit spectacular levels of growth in the 1990s, it drove the price of several raw materials to historic highs. China became the main buyer of many commodities produced in the region.
To buttress that role, China began to invest in a wide variety of industries throughout the region and to accumulate sovereign debt, especially in Venezuela and Ecuador. From 2005 to 2015, China’s influence expanded dramatically, but Beijing kept a very low profile. Recently, that has begun to change.