The Chinese Foreign Intelligence Service, under the Ministry of State Security (MSS), is responsible for collecting information on economic, technological, scientific, military and any other aspects that may affect the country's interests and security. As far as publicly available information exists, the Chinese government or the MSS has never been accused of overthrowing governments or fomenting military coups in Latin America. The same cannot be said about the presence of the United States in the region.

From the beginning of the independence processes of Latin American countries, starting in 1810, and the consolidation of the revolution of the colonies - occurring in 1776 - which meant the defeat and expulsion of the British from their territory, the United States proclaimed the so-called "Monroe Doctrine". This Doctrine sought to distance the European presence from the continent, especially that of England, France and Spain, among others, indicating that their intervention in the affairs of the new countries would represent an act of aggression. President James Monroe, before the U.S. Congress in 1823, summed up in a few words what became the backbone of U.S. foreign policy: "America for the Americans". The message, that could have been viewed with sympathy by the new states that had shaken off the colonial yoke, quickly became "America for the United States", and the region was subjected to the interests of the large corporations that were beginning their expansion. Every time a country wanted to take its own path, its rulers were overthrown and their place taken by bloodthirsty, submissive and corrupt dictators whose names were engraved in history: Trujillo, Batista, Somoza, Duvalier, Stroessner, Videla, Banzer, Pinochet and numerous others.

The Cuban revolution in 1959, which aroused so many illusions and which came to break the U.S. hegemony, quickly turned into a dictatorship which, although it granted rights to its citizens, stifled their freedoms, becoming a nightmare for three generations of Cubans. The United States has futilely sought to overthrow it and maintains to this day an economic blockade that punishes the people and has only strengthened the dictatorship that remains supported by a repressive system. Today Venezuela and Nicaragua, with nuances, have followed the Cuban model, consolidating mediocre rulers – aspiring dictators who have disappointed and generated serious crises in their countries.

China has become a global player and second power after the United States. It undoubtedly aspires to be the first based on its population, military power, the economic strength of its immense domestic market and its accelerated scientific, technological and space development, among other characteristics. Since 1949, the year in which the communists led by Mao Zedong took power, and later, with the economic reforms introduced by Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s, the country went from being a backward and poor agrarian economy to one that is close to becoming the world's leading power. It has consolidated its position in the world market by opening the country to investment by large companies from developed countries that have contributed their technology to China's development.

The official policy of the government, i.e. the Communist Party, has encouraged and supported the creation of economic, financial and technological giants that have expanded trade and investment, while Beijing has complemented its foreign presence, especially in the Third World, with generous development aid. For several Latin American countries, China has become their main trading partner and export destination in a market that absorbs the production of raw materials and agribusiness. According to figures provided by the business intelligence platform BNamericas, the most conservative projection estimates that by 2035 trade will reach US$700 billion, double what it is today.

This figure would represent nearly 24% of Latin America and the Caribbean's trade with China. The figures are even more impressive when we see that in the year 2000 it was less than 2%. A country like Brazil, with a government hostile to China, such as that of President Jair Bolsonaro, has invested more than 66 billion dollars in direct investments in the last 14 years, which represents almost 50% of the total amount invested by Beijing in the region.

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a visit to Trinidad and Tobago, where I was Chile's ambassador. There he met with ten of the 15 heads of state or government of the countries that make up CariCom (Caribbean Community), since the other five maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan. For two days he stayed with an impressive delegation of high authorities, taking the time to meet individually with each of the attending heads of state and then, in a joint meeting, he announced that US$ 3 billion in cooperation projects would be made available to the countries. Two weeks before the Chinese President's visit, the then Vice President of the United States, John Biden arrived by surprise, accompanied by his wife, Jill, and two teenage granddaughters. He stayed less than 24 hours in Port of Spain, where he announced the delivery of US$250 million for cooperation projects. He did not hold individual interviews with the CariCom heads of government, but only a single joint meeting and later a luncheon where we, the ambassadors accredited in Trinidad and Tobago, were invited.

China's advance in Latin America has not stopped and is expanding to a greater diversity of areas. It is no longer just trade and investments in infrastructure but is extending to the scientific, technological, satellite, big data and the so-called 5G, which is a true revolution in the system of communications applications. The latter is the one that causes most concern in Washington and has led to effective pressure on Latin American governments to desist from adopting this technology in which China is more advanced than the North American country. This real crusade against companies such as Huawei, has also mobilized the strategic partners of the United States both in the European Union and in Japan, Australia and others that will join, to prevent licenses from being delivered to Chinese companies because of the potential threat that 5G would represent for communications, energy, transportation or defense. At the United Nations, in 2018, former President Donald Trump vindicated. the Monroe Doctrine unambiguously and in 2019 and 2020 he sent his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who crudely exposed in his visits to several South American countries warning of the danger of handing over 5G to Chinese companies. The message was clear in Chile: "If you use unreliable systems within your network, you will force the United States to make decisions about where we put our information".

The expansion of China's presence in Latin America and the world is a consequence of its great economic development and represents a competition at all levels to the power of the United States. The Silk Road is a good example, and many countries have joined it. Does this pose a threat to our region? Since 1953, when it agreed with India on the five principles of peaceful coexistence, China has adopted them as the basis of its foreign policy. One of them is non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries. There have been no known overthrows, coups d'état - or military interventions by the Chinese government - or its intelligence agencies - to favor the interests of its companies in the region. It has known how to wait for countries to establish diplomatic relations and then open opportunities with them by offering its immense market and gigantic financial resources to support development. Chileans are familiar with Chinese pragmatism.

In 1973, after the bloody military coup that overthrew President Salvador Allende, China maintained and strengthened ties with the military dictatorship to the horror of the Chilean and world left, even though it had been the first country in the region - after Cuba - to recognize and establish diplomatic relations with Beijing. China will continue to strengthen its presence in the region and each country will determine in a sovereign manner and according to its interests, the areas of investment and cooperation, without discrimination, and with the sole requirement of respect for international law and national laws.