In the most recent developments to Chinese-Latin American relations, Chinese officials held talks with their Brazilian counterparts about the prospect of China developing a $20 billion high-speed rail system in Brazil. In Venezuela, Chinese officials signed cooperation agreements covering energy, finance, electric power, and poverty eradication. China also deepened trade agreements with Chile and offered expertise on post-earthquake reconstruction.
For years, as the U.S. Congress has refused to support free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama, China has steadily deepened its commercial ties with Latin American states. It has even come to outstrip the United States as the largest trading partner for both Brazil and Chile. Is China’s increasing presence in Latin America the result of short-term economic expediency or does it represent the beginnings of a new and enduring paradigm in South-South trade?