On July 13, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) spoke on the Senate floor about China’s growing economic influence in Latin America:
Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, last night I had an interesting dinner. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware and I joined two Republican Senators, and we met for dinner with eight Ambassadors from Central and South America. It was a rare occurrence which we hadn't seen in the last year and a half, the kind of dialogue and communication which I think is an important part of my job and an important part of understanding the world today.
They had one consistent message. Despite the fact that they felt a closeness to the United States that had been built up over decades of generations, there was a new factor in Central and South America which each one of them repeated as significant in the future of that region. The new factor is the arrival of China.
In each one of these countries, large and small, China has become a player, a force. They have invested their resources in developing an economic relationship with these countries, have provided them with COVID-19 vaccines when others would not, and were becoming larger and larger factors in the future of the economies of these countries.
Senator Coons said at one point, and I certainly would agree with him: We have to take this seriously in the United States. We can't assume that long-term relationships and friendships will see us through. We need to be actively engaged in strengthening and creating alliances with these countries in our hemisphere.
He added--and I am glad he did--the United States has chosen, over recent history, to literally spend trillions of dollars on military efforts and those overseas commitments, which is money China wasn't spending for the same purpose. China was spending trillions of dollars to develop economic relationships, to loan money for infrastructure projects in developing countries.