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ICYMI: Rubio Urges Biden Admin to Pay More Attention to Rising Chinese Influence in LATAM

Mar 30, 2022 | Press Releases

Rubio urges more attention to China’s rise in Latin America
Joshua Goodman
March 30, 2022
Associated Press
…The Florida Republican, as the ranking member of the foreign relations subcommittee for Latin America, will co-chair a hearing Thursday with U.S. officials and experts to discuss China’s deal making and diplomacy in the region.
In an interview, Rubio said that he is concerned U.S. officials and resources rightly focused on the standoff with Vladimir Putin in Ukraine will be distracted from the threat posted by Beijing
“Russia is an acute problem and it’s a present-day challenge,” said Rubio. “But it’s a five-year or 10-year problem. China is a 100-year problem, both in the region and internationally.”
 In the immediate aftermath of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, senior officials in Moscow warned Russia could deploy troops or military assets to Cuba and Venezuela if the U.S. and NATO insist on meddling on Russia’s doorstep.
Rubio said the [Russian] threats were mostly bluster… he said the real strategic threat is posed by China, whose influence successive U.S. administrations have been unable to stem. 

The Trump administration tried to warn governments in the region that they would make themselves vulnerable to hacking and national security threats if they built out their telecommunications systems by purchasing subsidized products sold by China’s Huawei… However, those concerns have so far mostly failed to deter cash-strapped governments.
“It’s tough to compete,” admitted Rubio, who is often consulted about U.S. policy by conservative leaders in the region. “It’s what they can afford, frankly, and then they (Chinese officials) finance it for you. So you have a legitimate need and there’s only one company in the world that seems to fit the bill in terms of cost effectiveness.”
He said the U.S. should do more to encourage adoption of what’s known as Open RAN technology, a cheaper, cloud-based alternative to Huawei’s 5G technology.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to offer that as an alternative. But once this stuff is installed in a country’s infrastructure grid, it is hard to yank it out,” he said.
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