China accused the US of disrespecting Latin America after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned countries in the region against excessive reliance on economic ties with China.
Tillerson, in a speech ahead of a visit to Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Jamaica, said China was getting a foothold in Latin America, using economic statecraft to pull the region into its orbit.
In a statement released late on Friday responding to Tillerson, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said cooperation between China and Latin America is based on common interests and mutual needs.
“What the United States said is entirely against the truth and displayed disrespect to the vast number of Latin American countries,” the ministry said, adding that cooperation between China and Latin American countries is based on equality, reciprocity, openness and inclusiveness.
“China is a major international buyer of Latin American bulk commodities, and imports more and more agricultural and high value-added products from the region,” it said.
China’s investment in and financial cooperation with Latin American countries are in full accordance with commercial rules and local laws and regulations, it added.
“The development of China-Latin America ties does not target or reject any third party, nor does it affect the interests of third parties in Latin America,” the ministry said. “We hope that relevant countries abandon outdated concepts of zero-sum games and look at the development of China-Latin America relations in an open and inclusive manner.”
Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) last month visited Chile for a summit with Latin American and Caribbean nations, where he invited them to join its Belt and Road Initiative.
Separately, US Department of the Treasury top economic diplomat David Malpass on Friday accused China of enabling poor governance in Venezuela by propping up the socialist government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro through murky oil-for-loan investments.
“Most of the blame for Venezuela’s economic collapse and humanitarian disaster falls squarely on Venezuela’s rulers, but China has been by far Venezuela’s largest lender supporting poor governance,” Malpass said.
He said the international community and Venezuelans would ultimately be left with rebuilding the country once democracy was restored.
“China denominated many of its loans to Venezuela in barrels of oil. This has the effects of masking the exact amount of payments that China made to Venezuelan officials and that Venezuelans are expected to make to China in the future,” he added.
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