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Trouble Down South

Xi Jinping’s Latin American Tour

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the APEC summit in Lima, November 2016. Mariana Bazo / Reuters

As the United States prepares to turn inward after Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, Chinese President Xi Jinping has been busy reaching out to the world in a bid to fill the global leadership gap left by Washington.

Fittingly, China is making its move in Latin America, once regarded as “America’s backyard.” On November 17, Xi began a weeklong tour of South America, attending the 2016 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, where he made the case for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, a Beijing-backed trade agreement involving 21 APEC member countries. During the trip, which will also take him to Chile and Ecuador, Xi will also look to expand on China’s growing economic and political influence in Latin America.

In recent years, China has rolled out tens of billions of dollars in loan-for-infrastructure deals, and Xi has promised to double Chinese trade with the region to $500

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