El Salvadorian President Nayib Bukele at an amusement park financed by China, La Libertad, El Salvador, August 2022
Jose Cabezas / Reuters

China’s footprint in Latin America is large and growing. It is the region’s second-largest trade partner after the United States and the biggest sovereign lender to Latin American governments. Indeed, as a lender, China is overtaking long-standing multilateral financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank in the region. Those two organizations are just barely edging out the $131 billion the Chinese extended in credit in Latin America between 2008 and 2019. All signs are that China will soon be the largest holder of debt in the region.

That should worry both Latin American and U.S.

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