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quarta-feira, abril 05, 2006

China’s new Latin American revolution


But while international political focus has been largely on Islamic fundamentalism and Iraq, an alternative economic and political system has begun to test itself in the Americas – one that may end up seriously challenging western democratic thinking.

Under the slogan “peaceful rising”, China is “selling” itself to Africa and Latin America as the model for ending poverty. Its pitch is finding an audience among governments that have watched China’s growth leap and their own stagnate while being lectured by the International Monetary Fund and patronised by aid agencies. China’s poor of 20 years ago are now taking out mortgages on first homes while elsewhere others are still scrabbling around for a pair of shoes.


If Latin America is not to find itself a new testing ground between an insecure America and an increasingly confident China, this cold war spectre, raised at routine congressional hearings, must be addressed now. Already, among US conspiracy theorists, China’s runaway economy, undervalued currency, absorption of US manufacturing jobs and growing overseas investment risks being portrayed as a Middle Kingdom master plan to conquer the world. The reality of what China might achieve is anybody’s guess. Almost half of China’s direct foreign investment is going into Latin America, and Beijing has pledged it will reach $100bn (£57.7bn) in the next five years. Joint ventures have been agreed in steel, transport and energy and military exchanges are increasing.

None of that should cause Americans concern, unless viewed alongside Beijing’s deep-seated and unresolved differences on how societies should be governed. In the US, it is through elections. In China, it is by ending poverty.


FT.com / Comment & analysis / Comment - China’s new Latin American revolution


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