Along with trading with the region, it is increasingly important in geopolitical terms
hina’s engagement with Latin America has tended to be purely transactional. It went from hardly trading with the region at the turn of the century to overtaking the United States to become the top trading partner for South America, and the second almost everywhere else in Latin America. Annual goods trade between China and Latin America rose to $445bn in 2021, up from $12bn in 2000. But its relationship with the region appears to be evolving. Latin America is increasingly useful to China in geopolitical terms, too.
On June 8th the Wall Street Journal reported that the Communist government of Cuba had secretly agreed to allow China to set up an electronic-spying facility in the country. At first American and Cuban officials denied the story. Two days later the White House admitted that a base has existed for some time. This is not the first time that China has been reported to have military or security footholds in the region. China has long been thought to have a small military presence in Cuba and access to listening stations. It has several satellite ground-stations in Latin America, which are believed to also have spying purposes.