China Buys Friends in Latin America

As President Obama tries to smooth over ruffled feathers on his first trip to Mexico today, perhaps he should keep in mind the wildly successful diplomatic tactic the Chinese have employed in Latin America: cash--and lots of it. China has recently been negotiating a $12 billion development fund in Venezuela, a $1 billion loan to Ecuador, a $10 billion loan to Argentina, and an infusion of $10 billion to Brazil's nationalized oil company. And what does China get in return? Friendly access to the countries that have some of the world's best natural resources. "This is how the balance of power shifts quietly during times of crisis," a former Commerce Department official said. Obama is meeting with Latin American leaders this weekend, when they'll discuss funding the Inter-American Development Bank, which pales in comparison to the Chinese cash influx.