Beijing Debunks US Claims of Growing Chinese Influence in Latin America

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson outlined the Trump administration's vision for Latin America for the first time Thursday, describing the region as a vital, enduring US partner despite recent frictions over immigration and trade.

"Latin America doesn't need new imperial powers that seek only to benefit their own people", he said. Already Latin Americans seized on his comments on Thursday about the 1823 Monroe Doctrine which asserted that the United States would not tolerate European intervention in the Americas.

China's Foreign Ministry defended its economic ties with the region claiming they are based on mutual interest.

The statement also rejected claims that China is undermining USA interest in the region.

The secretary also underscored Russia's presence in Latin America.

"Let's make sure we have systems in place where we understand who's coming into the country", Tillerson said.

On Thursday in Texas, Tillerson said the administration was not advocating for a "regime change" in Venezuela. Commentators have said his statements disregarded the role military dictatorships on the continent have had in subverting democracy and committing human rights violations including killings, kidnappings, and forced disappearances.

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He was addressing staff and students at University of Texas before he was to fly out on a six-day tour of Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Jamaica.

Trump has called the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) "perhaps the worst deal in the history of the world", has said immigrants from across the southern border bring crime, and he remains determined to build a frontier wall.

The export volume of the Latin America and Caribbean region increased by 13 percent in 2017 from the previous year, while China contributed one-third of the increase, according to a report issued by the Inter-American Development Bank in 2017.

US President Donald Trump has said in the past: "A military option is certainly something we could pursue".

Mexico and the United States are "closer" than ever, it was revealed Friday during a joint news conference with officials from Mexico, Canada and the US.

"I think this will be a visit in which we'll be able to express and explain our concerns, to explain our limits, and also to try to maintain the dialogue and the communication which I think is extremely important to avoid unnecessary crisis", De la Mora said.

The official also stressed that his country's investment in and financial cooperation with Latin American countries were in full accordance with commercial rules and local laws and regulations.