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News > Panama

Facing China, US Official Visits Panama, Colombia & Ecuador

  • A high-level delegation from the United States in Quito Tuesday meeting with President Guillermo Lasso to learn about Ecuador's infrastructure needs and development plans, while promoting the G7's Rebuild a Better World initiative.

    A high-level delegation from the United States in Quito Tuesday meeting with President Guillermo Lasso to learn about Ecuador's infrastructure needs and development plans, while promoting the G7's Rebuild a Better World initiative. | Photo: Twitter/@USembassyEC

Published 30 September 2021

According to official sources, in confrontation with China's presence in Latin America, a high-level delegation from the United States visited Panama to promote the Build Back Better World initiative.

A press release from the Presidency says that President Laurentino Cortizo met this Wednesday afternoon with Daleep Singh, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics, who headed the delegation.

During the meeting, they discussed issues related to climate change, security, technology and energy.


Biden Preparing Rival to China's Belt & Road in Latin America

The objective of the visit was to launch the G7 (Group of Seven) initiative, approved last June and known by its acronym B3W, which "has as a priority to invest in people, health, digital inclusion, climate change and gender equity," said the source.

In this tour of Colombia, Ecuador and Panama, Singh said that the U.S. government seeks to partner with its great allies and friends in launching a series of initiatives in strategic infrastructure, which will improve the quality of life of its inhabitants," according to the note.

The delegation, which included three other officials from the Department of State and the International Development Finance Corporation, held meetings with the heads of the portfolios of Environment, Public Works and Private investment, and directors of Energy and Government Innovation.

The group also met with the administration of the Panama Canal, with whom they discussed future infrastructure projects for the interoceanic waterway and its carbon-negative goal.

According to the press release, the general objectives of the exchanges revolved around achieving a green economy, obtaining non-polluting supply chains, developing technological infrastructure, and acquiring U.S. financing for these projects.

Last June 12, U.S. President Joe Biden presented to the G7 the aforementioned initiative, which a White House message described as "strategic competition with China," in response to the Asian giant's megaproject called the Belt and Road, launched in 2013.

"I met with representatives of @USEmbPAN and Daleep Singh, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor, to carry out joint actions to strengthen cooperation ties between the two nations in the areas of security, health, climate change, energy and technology."

In discordance with the President's stated intention that the B3W was aimed at "meeting the tremendous infrastructure needs of low- and middle-income countries," the initial implementation of the initiative in Latin America seems to belie that purpose, analysts said.

The background of the scenario chosen for the confrontation could be in the visit to Panama of the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, in December 2018, in reciprocity to the meeting in Beijing with his then-counterpart Juan Carlos Varela in November 2017, and the establishment of relations between the two countries in June of that same year.

When the announcement of Xi's visit was "leaked" to the U.S. government, a lightning trip by the then Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, warned Varela of the discomfort of the White House, then headed by Donald Trump, confirmed by the official himself to the journalists who accompanied him.

"The problem is when state-owned enterprises appear that are clearly not transparent, are not market-driven, and are not designed to benefit the people of Panama, but rather to benefit the Chinese government," Pompeo said.

The State Department literally published his message: "...to remind the entire region, that when China calls it is not always for the good of the citizens of these countries; and when they show up with a straight and legitimate investment, that is transparent and in accordance with the law, that is called competition and it is something that the United States favors..."

But in that framework, he contradicted himself by reiterating the "welcome competition" of the Asian giant, and cataloging Chinese actions as "predatory economic activity."

Despite the planned Western economic retaliation, one European columnist ironically noted that while it is unclear how the B3W will work, the Chinese have an eight-year head start with their well-designed Belt and Road megaproject.

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