’90 Miles From the US Coast, There’s Chinese Military’: Graceffo on CCP Influence in Latin America

Tiffany Meier
By Tiffany Meier
January 22, 2022China in Focus

In this special episode, we sat down with China economic analyst Antonio Graceffo and Paz Gómez, a researcher at Impunity Observer. They talk about the first female president in Hondurus, how that could change diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and how the Chinese regime’s economic stake in Latin America ripples over into the United States.

Graceffo said, “One of the things that China is doing that’s very clever is that they’re going right to the tree. When you want to find a good apple, you go right to the tree. So one of the things they’re doing is they’re offering scholarships for students, police, and military, but they’re taking junior officers, young people. So they go to China, they’ll have a good experience, and they’ll always—maybe learn to speak Chinese—and then they’ll always be somewhat pro-China. So China will slowly and organically grow support in those countries from China. … And then they produce mega projects in these countries through the Belt and Road Initiative and through other programs. So basically, these programs work like this: China will come and build a very highly visible infrastructure project, they will loan the host country the money to pay for the project, the host company country will then use the money to pay Chinese companies to build the project.”

Gómez said, “As China gains more influence in [manufacturing and infrastructure] projects in [South America], they are also kind of removing key points for the United States. Not because the United States have been intervening, like, explicitly in the countries, but because at the end, if something happens in a geopolitical situation, the logical allies of the United States were the Latin American countries. If they have a commitment with other countries, it will be more difficult for these countries to say, for example, Honduras in the case that they decide to go with China, it is going to be more difficult to say, ‘Yeah, I logically support the United States, I logically support their republican democratic system,’ because they have some commitments with China.”

Watch the full episode online.

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