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Rubio Calls Out China’s Latin American ‘Power Grab’: Under The ‘Very Nose’ Of The Biden Admin
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 21: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the omicron variant of the coronavirus in the State Dining Room of the White House, December 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. As the omicron variant fuels a new wave of COVID-19 infections, Biden announced plans that will expand testing sites across the country, distribute millions of free at-home tests and boost federal resources to hospitals in need.
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Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio claimed Monday that the Biden administration was “losing the war against China in Latin America” by a weak response to “expanding Chinese influence in America’s backyard.”

Rubio criticized what he viewed as a weak response to China’s efforts to gain power and influence in the region just 13 days after Nicaragua, under President Daniel Ortega, announced that it was ending diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

“And yet, it appears that the Biden administration’s foreign policy will continue to undercut America’s national interests,” Rubio wrote in response to the news. “What the United States needs is a real strategy for strengthening democracy and the rule of law in Latin America and countering the malign influence of the Chinese Communist Party.”

The senator, writing for El American, noted that China has been pushing its Belt and Road initiative in many countries including Venezuela and Argentina. He argued that China was effectively setting “debt traps” for developing countries to fall into and become dependent on China. 

Rubio argued that the West was in danger of being overshadowed as China seeks to create “its own economic sphere of influence” in pursuit of becoming the world’s superpower. 

“Nicaragua’s decision to cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan is the latest step in Beijing’s attempt to gain power over our hemisphere,” he added. “Ortega also wants continued Chinese funding for the construction of an Atlantic-to-Pacific canal through Nicaragua, which People’s Liberation Army warships can then use to access the Caribbean.”

After Nicaragua announced its decision to break relations with Taiwan, Taiwan’s foreign ministry expressed their disappointment at the move, saying Ortega “disregarded the years of solidarity and friendship between the people of the both countries.”

At the time, the U.S. State Department said that they hoped countries would “expand engagement with Taiwan” and accused Ortega of not being legitimately elected. Ned Price said that Nicaragua’s November elections were a “sham” and that it was not “fair and free.” 

Despite these statements, Rubio believes that Biden’s response to supporting Taiwan has been inadequate while China has grown its influence in Latin America under the “very nose” of the Biden administration. 

He accused Biden of “downgrading” Taiwan’s participation at Biden’s championed “Summit of Democracies” and called the State Department’s response to Nicaragua’s decision “halfhearted.” 

“In fact, it’s likely that Biden’s incompetence and catastrophic foreign policy convinced Ortega that now was the perfect time to act. So many of America’s rivals are choosing to move against our interests right now because they know our executive leadership is weak,” Rubio argued. 

The Republican senator also said that he planned on introducing legislation in the next year to promote solidarity against Beijing’s actions in Latin America. 

An updated Congressional Research report last week discussed China’s economic and diplomatic efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

According to the report, China has “comprehensive strategic partnerships” with many nations in the region including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela.

Much of China’s goals in the region involve gaining access to new markets for their products and obtaining valuable raw materials including ores, soybeans, and minerals. In 2020 alone, China imported $165 billion from the area and exported $150 billion worth of goods. 

The report notes that some analysts “maintain that some countries have amassed unsustainable levels of debt owed to the PRC and have become dependent on commodities exports to China. Some argue that PRC support extends a lifeline to leaders with poor governance records and exacerbates corruption.”

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