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Latin America's Gaze Increasingly Turns East
Date: 3/30/2011
Written By: Inter Press Service, By Aprille Muscara

Excerpt: On the heels of U.S. President Barack Obama's trip to Latin America, Washington's traditional role as "regional hegemon" is being reevaluated as its attention focuses on the Arab Spring and an emerging commercial competitor - China - focuses on the U.S.'s backyard… These connections, they claim, not only threaten U.S. regional influence and interests, but also its national security. Others, meanwhile, are sceptical of the idea that China's current military aims in Latin America put its northern neighbour in direct peril. "The way I see that is getting to know each other," argued Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the U.S.-based Council of the Americas, referring to Sino-Latin military relations. "One has to watch it, I suppose, but we don't have to go crazy" in our speculations, he added. In Farnsworth's view, Chinese pronouncements and actions in the region have suggested a relationship built on commerce, not political or strategic engagement. "I think it's in the Chinese interests to have a stable region where the rules of the game are known, where they are one of many actors [in the market]," he told a small group of reporters at the National Foreign Trade Council here on Monday. "At one level, the U.S. security presence in the region is making things much more secure for other investors," he said. "Why would China want to disrupt that?"