Latin America needs development, not zero-sum US games

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In this Monday, July 6, 2015 photo, Pope Francis waves to the crowd as he rides in the popemobile through Samanes Park, where he will celebrate Mass, in Guayaquil, Ecuador. A crowd estimated at 1 million people, greeted Francis on the packed dirt of Samanes Park for a late-morning Mass. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

By Li Qingqing Source:Global Times

US President Donald Trump is planning to restructure the US’ backyard. However, such a plan is doomed to fail.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday urged Latin America to resist China’s and Russia’s investment and aid. According to the Washington Examiner on Friday, Pompeo said that “China, Russia, they’re showing up at the doorstep, but once they enter the house, we know they will… spread disorder in your home.” Pompeo said that the US is a better partner to the region.

Pompeo’s statements reflect that the US still treats Latin America as its backyard. But such an old concept, which originated with the Monroe Doctrine, is no longer in line with Latin America’s political and economic situation at all. Besides, how much is the US willing to invest to help the region’s development and be a real good partner? Maybe Washington is only paying lip service.

The US is turning a deaf ear to the successful China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Latin America. It is the natural extension of the BRI to reach Latin America. China’s projects in Latin America are all development projects which aim at constructing infrastructure and boosting connectivity. None of these projects targets the US. In fact, these BRI projects will also benefit the US because highways and ports in the region are also useful to the US. If the US’ backyard can be highly developed, won’t that benefit the US as well?

However, this is not what the US did in China’s backyard – the South China Sea. Washington aims at boosting its military presence in the South China Sea to threaten China. What if China also deploys military forces in Latin America?

Why will Washington’s acts in Latin America fail? The most important reason is that the US still regards itself as an ideological leader. According to Reuters, Trump said in March that he was strongly considering NATO membership for Brazil. This is also one of Washington’s old tricks – forming alliances, using ideology to group countries, blackening others’ names for its own interests. But none of them will work on China. NATO is a military organization in which members have common enemies. It is hard to believe that joining NATO is Latin American countries’ urgent need.

And such tricks may not work on Latin American countries either, because development is now the top priority for all countries in the region. In recent years, an increasing number of Latin American countries have signed cooperation agreements with China on the BRI. Development, instead of picking sides or playing geopolitical games, is the biggest problem to be resolved for Latin American countries.

Latin American people know what is good for them. China’s investment and projects will benefit the region, and no amount of Washington’s coaxing will change the facts. The US should stop playing a zero-sum game and focus on Latin America’s development, if Washington really regards the region as “its backyard.”

Posted in: OBSERVER

 

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