If there is one unbeatable advantage that the United States still possesses over China though, it is that it can still project a cultural and moral authority that people around the world admire. Individuals still aspire to the idea of a fair and democratic government that respects the rule of law, free speech, freedom of religion and so on. China, for all its economic advancement, reveals its own weaknesses every time it oppresses religious minorities, silences internal dissent, or otherwise fails to successfully persuade other countries to become subservient in a greater Chinese cultural whole. It cannot convince, so it must compel. In Latin America though, hard power is of limited utility; soft power through economic and diplomatic influence will carry the day in the region. This is something that Washington ought to ponder.
Carlos Roa is the senior editor of the National Interest.