Latin American countries should be wary of “new imperial powers” and should not become too reliant on Chinese loans, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said ahead of a foreign trip Thursday, Reuters reports.
Tillerson, who will visit Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Jamaica in the coming days, also said that Russia’s growing presence in the region was “alarming as well.”
“Today China is getting a foothold in Latin America. It is using economic statecraft to pull the region into its orbit; the question is at what price,” said Tillerson during his speech at the University of Texas.
China is now the largest trading partner with Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Peru, according to Tillerson, which means that the countries will need strong institutions and accountable governments to secure their sovereignty against “potential predatory actors.”
“While this trade has brought benefits, the unfair trading practices used by many Chinese have also harmed those countries’ manufacturing sectors, generating unemployment and lowering wages for workers,” he said.
“Latin America does not need new imperial powers that seek only to benefit their own people,” Tillerson added. “China’s state-led model of development is reminiscent of the past. It doesn’t have to be this hemisphere’s future.”