0306 GMT October 14, 2019
“For a long time, the United States has regarded Latin America as its own backyard, and pressured, threatened and even toppled other countries’ political regimes,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a briefing in Beijing, adding that countries in the region would soon understand who was their “true friend”.
Pompeo on Friday, during a three-day trip to Chile, Paraguay and Peru, accused China of aiding Venezuela’s economic collapse by bankrolling President Nicolas Maduro as the country spirals into deepening political crisis, Reuters reported.
The United States is pressing Maduro to step down and urging more countries to join a coalition supporting opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Pompeo labeled China hypocritical for calling for non-intervention in Venezuela when he said China’s own “financial interventions have helped destroy the country”.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said that such comments were “lies”.
“US Secretary of State Pompeo, on China-Latin America relations, is wantonly slanderous, deliberately instigating, irresponsible, and unreasonable. We strongly oppose this,” Lu said.
China is already the top trade partner for Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy and the world’s top soybean exporter. The pivot by it and other countries in the region toward Beijing for financing has alarmed Washington.
China’s booming economy over the past two decades has driven up demand for South America’s raw materials.
Highlighting the gains Latin American countries had made from economic and trade cooperation with the United States, Pompeo warned about “predatory” lending practices and “malign or nefarious” actions, mirroring criticism previous US officials have made about China.
US President Donald Trump’s December 2017 national security strategy said China was seeking to pull the region into its orbit through state-led investment and loans.