The National Endowment for Democracy [the Washington-based democracy assistance group] has called China’s increasing penetration of Latin America — be that in finance, infrastructure, cultural exchange, or shelling out a record £60m in 2016 for the transfer of Brazilian player Oscar dos Santos Emboaba to Shanghai SIPG from Chelsea — an example of rivals’ growing “sharp power” in the region. But that may be alarmism taken too far, claims the Financial Times:
For one, China is now such a major trade partner that, as Jorge Heine, a former Chilean ambassador to China, put it recently: “When I hear the argument for Latin America to reconsider the relationship with China . . . they wouldn’t be able to.”Latin America is certainly no ingénue when it comes to the mixed blessings of China’s growing presence. Many complain it is hollowing out their countries’ manufacturing bases: most of Brazil’s carnival costumes, for example, are made in China, and in 2003 economist Barry Eichengreen observed that more sombreros were made in China than in Mexico. But China’s growing role is hardly surprising given the US’s “blunt power” approach.