PANAMA CITY – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has asked Latin America to be alert to the increase in China’s investments in the region because sometimes the countries have been “worse off” after negotiating with the Asian giant.
Pompeo’s warning came during his visit to Panama, where he met with the President of that country, Juan Carlos Varela.
“The United States wants positive things for the people of Panama and the region, we want to make sure that when countries make investments, including China, they do so in a way that is consistent with international laws,” Pompeo said, according to the translation, to the channel Panamanian TVN-2.
“We have seen instances where this has been the case, but on some occasions China has not behaved accordingly. We wish the country many positive things and we want to make sure that everyone has a very open eye on China’s relations in this country and in the region,” Pompeo added.
The U.S. secretary’s remarks come one month after Washington withdrew its ambassadors in the Dominican Republic and El Salvador, and its business manager in Panama, after they reestablished relations with China and broke with Taiwan. The move came after the Donald Trump government accused Beijing of destabilizing China-Taiwan relations by trying to separate Taipei from some of its allies in the Western Hemisphere.
According to Pompeo, in some parts of the world China has invested in such a way that it has “left the countries in a worse situation and that should never happen”. “We want to make sure that where China decides to invest, it does so in a way that benefits the population of the country where that investment is made,” Pompeo said.
Panama established diplomatic relations with China in June 2017, after breaking with Taiwan. The Central American country expects large Chinese investments in infrastructure, while Beijing seeks in its ally the possibility of economic and commercial expansion to the rest of the region. In recent years the economic presence of China in Latin America has increased.
Some analysts suspect that Beijing seeks to have political influence in a region historically under the umbrella of Washington. Avid for raw materials and services, between 2010 and 2016 China invested some 90,000 million dollars in Latin America, according to the Academic Network for Latin America and the Caribbean.–MercoPress