China’s Inroads in Latin America and the Caribbean Demand a New Strategy

China’s Inroads in Latin America and the Caribbean Demand a New Strategy

As Taiwan loses another diplomatic ally in Nicaragua, it's time for the Biden administration to consider how to balance against China in its own backyard.


The Biden administration as well as its Taiwanese ally have an opportunity in Honduras to stem the tide – for now. A U.S. delegation prior to the elections stressed the importance of keeping Taiwanese relations intact. At the same time, there could be a convergence of interests between the Biden and Castro administrations. Castro’s victory underscores a strong desire by the Honduran people to tackle the country’s endemic corruption and create better living conditions. However, the Biden administration’s Democracy Summit was notable in the lack of participation from Central America, though the Caribbean was well represented.

All of the above points to the pressing need for U.S. policymakers to reconceptualize their thinking about Latin America and the Caribbean, taking into consideration that Washington’s days of being able to easily impose its will on its neighbors is over. There is also a greater need to understand the geopolitical asymmetry between the Americas and the rest of the world. In this, everything ultimately is connected: The U.S. debacle in Afghanistan in 2021 must be seen in light of China’s testing of U.S. resolve over Taiwan in Asia, Russia’s military buildup on the Ukrainian border, and Nicaragua’s fraudulent election followed by its flip to China. For the Biden administration, what happens in Nicaragua, Honduras, or Guyana are not local affairs, but part of a larger and riskier new Cold War with China. 


Scott B. MacDonald is chief economist for Smith’s Research and Gradings.

Image: Reuters.