Biden Hosts Summit With Latin Leaders to Counter China’s ‘Debt Trap Diplomacy’

Biden Hosts Summit With Latin Leaders to Counter China’s ‘Debt Trap Diplomacy’
(L–R) Costa Rican President Rodrigo Chaves Robles, U.S. President Joe Biden, Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou, and other leaders attend the plenary session of the inaugural Americas Partnership For Economic Prosperity Leaders' Summit in the East Room of the White House on Nov. 3, 2023. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden welcomed leaders from the Western Hemisphere to the White House on Friday for a summit to discuss regional issues including migration, supply chains, and infrastructure investment amid concerns over China’s increasing military and commercial footprint in the region.

According to the White House, nine of the summit’s 11 leaders are participating, including the prime minister of Canada and presidents from Barbados, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru, and Uruguay. Foreign ministers from Mexico and Panama are also attending.

The leaders are gathering for the inaugural Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity Leaders’ Summit, which aims to expand economic relations and “make the Western Hemisphere the most economically competitive region in the world,” President Biden said in his opening remarks at the summit.

To that end, President Biden announced that the United States and its partners are stepping up efforts to mobilize financial solutions in the Americas.

“The United States is already the largest source of investment across Latin America and the Caribbean by far, and we want to make sure that our closest neighbors know they have a real choice between debt trap diplomacy and high-quality, transparent approaches to infrastructure and development,” President Biden said, referring to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a massive infrastructure development project that is perceived as a “debt trap” for many developing nations.

President Biden announced the launch of a new investment platform by the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation and the Inter-American Development Bank. This platform will invest billions of dollars in building sustainable infrastructure in the hemisphere and improving critical supply chains, modern ports, clean energy grids, and digital infrastructure.

The gathering was first announced last year at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California, as part of a larger effort to strengthen regional economic ties and reduce China’s influence in the region.

President Biden also said that the United States is working with the Inter-American Development Bank to expand financing solutions for environmental or climate change projects, such as “debt-for-nature swaps and blue and green bonds.”

Another announcement at the summit is the launch of the “Americas Partnership Accelerator,” a multiyear program to assist new entrepreneurs in developing and funding their business ideas. According to President Biden, this program will mobilize venture capital from around the world for startups in the region.

The leaders also agreed to collaborate to address the challenges of unprecedented migration flows.

According to White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, the summit could be a “once in a generation opportunity” to move supply chains to the Western Hemisphere.

“Taken as a whole, this two-day summit represents a strong demonstration of the United States’s commitment to work with our partners to take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to recenter critical global supply chains in the Americas, continue to address our shared migration challenge, and build meaningful economic opportunity across the hemisphere,” he told reporters on Nov. 2.

For more than two decades, China has formed close ties with many Latin American countries, and its expanding clout in the region in recent years has caused concerns in Washington.

With its massive Belt and Road Initiative, China has become South America’s major source of infrastructure investment and lending. It also has bolstered its military ties with numerous countries, most notably Venezuela.

During a House Armed Services Committee hearing on March 8, two senior U.S. military commanders expressed grave concern over China’s increasing military and technological presence in Latin America.

U.S. Southern Command Army Gen. Laura Richardson told the committee that China’s activities are a “relentless march” targeting U.S. hegemony in the Western Hemisphere.

“This is a risk we can’t accept or ignore,” Richardson said.

According to Irina Tsukerman, security analyst and founder of Scarab Rising, the extraordinarily advanced state of China’s tech investments in Latin America shows ambition beyond mere “debt-trap diplomacy.”

Beijing’s regional tech platforms have security implications that support its growing infrastructure network, undermining U.S. security interests, she told The Epoch Times.

Autumn Spredemann contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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