With the G20 summit taking place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, one of the most anticipated meetings will be between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The meeting, which will take place in the midst of a bilateral trade war, could determine whether thetwo countries improve relations or exacerbate tensions. But the rivalry between the two countries goes deeper than trade, it’s also one of influence, especially in Latin America.
Latin America has lost its confidence in the U.S. under President Trump. According to the Pew Research Center, confidence in the U.S. has dropped 30 percent in the last two years in Argentina alone, and up to 50 percent in Chile and Brazil during the same time. This is largely the result of a lack of a coherent foreign policy toward the region by the Trump administration, and President Donald Trump’s harsh, fear mongering rhetoric against migrants.
As confidence in the U.S. has decreased, “pro-China” sentiments have increased. According to data from the 2017 Pew Global Attitudes Survey, the regional median favorable opinion of China has surpassed the regional median favorable opinion for the United States. China has quickly managed to fill the void left by the United Sates. Through its Belt and Road Initiative, China has been building its ties in Latin America. China has become a key trading partner in the region and has established diplomatic ties with Panama in 2017, and with the Dominican Republic and El Salvador earlier this year. U.S. officials warn that Chinese infrastructure projects and lending to the region are “creating an economic and political dependency on China that’s incredibly dangerous.”