How China and Russia are Teaming up to Degrade U.S. Influence in South America

A cargo ship cruises as the sun sets at Ala Moana beach ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Honolulu November 7, 2011. Leaders of major nations bordering the Pacific will meet from Wednesday to Sunday in Hawaii to discuss building a regional free trade area and an environmental initiative to help spur world economic growth. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

China wants secure routes for its goods and Russia wants to be a global influencer by using Russian oil companies and state-run banks as a credit line to struggling South American nations.

Russia will likely learn from and acquiesce to China in Latin America due to the advantages of the Nicaragua canal and what Beijing is undertaking economically and politically in the region. But China will learn from Russia in the Arctic and gain the ability to exploit hydrocarbons and other natural resources with glaciers now melting at a rapid pace. With Russia’s ability in the Arctic and China’s need for resources and finances to sustain expensive infrastructure this titanic project of linking both routes will be offered as an alternative to the United States post–World War II order. That means countries will be able to choose between working with the United States or a Chinese-Russian economic bloc that is keen on doing business and geopolitics at the same time.

The viability of a gargantuan canal in Nicaragua since the Panama Canal recently completed a $5.2 billion upgrade seems foolish, but not when you consider the Chinese position that gives them new shipping and canal technology while learning how to reduce research and development costs. Although some people believe the Nicaragua canal is a pipe dream, China sees it as a means to ease congestion in the western hemisphere, create new economic opportunities, shorten journeys and build pipelines, railway lines, fiber-optic cables, telecommunication lines and other infrastructure.

China wants secure routes for its goods and Russia wants to be a global influencer by using Russian oil companies and state-run banks as a credit line to struggling South American nations. Through the massive infrastructure projects that the Nicaragua canal represents, China and Russia can connect different regions of South America and push out U.S. political influence through peaceful, economic ways. According to the London School of Economics United States Centre, China’s four interests in Latin America are: securing resources, acquiring political and economic support in regional and international forums, encourage nations to recognize China instead of Taiwan, and opening new markets for Chinese goods.

Strategic investments, security and the ability to project power economically, politically and geopolitically with financial undertones are the reasons for why China and Russia will link arms in the Arctic to gain a foothold over the United States in South and Central America—and possibly the Caribbean. Investment and connectivity are the visible goals of the BRI and Arctic Route, but connectivity to the Nicaragua canal into the western hemisphere seems to the ultimate gain for China and Russia’s increased trade relationship.

Todd Royal, M.P.P. is an author and consultant specializing in global threat assessment, energy development and policy for oil, gas and renewables based in Los Angeles, California.

Image: A cargo ship cruises as the sun sets at Ala Moana beach ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Honolulu November 7, 2011. Leaders of major nations bordering the Pacific will meet from Wednesday to Sunday in Hawaii to discuss building a regional free trade area and an environmental initiative to help spur world economic growth. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

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