The advent of 5G networks is showcasing Beijing’s growing ability to rival Washington in South America. That rivalry isn’t discussed too much in the region itself. Governments in Latin America mostly take a pragmatic approach, waiting for the lowest bidder while trying to remain as friendly as possible with each side. These tendencies hold true for most facets of U.S.-China competition in Latin America, but especially in South America, which is home to several major economies that are more politically and economically independent from the United States than closer neighbors such as Mexico. While choosing Huawei or a U.S. provider of 5G will not constitute a sea change, it is a significant shift that points toward a split in future trends, with one part of Latin America pulled toward the U.S. and the other part to China. Regardless of what happens, Chinese involvement in the region will only continue to grow, and that is enough to put Washington and U.S. industry on alert. I have written more on this subject here.
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