by Xinhua writer Luo Jun
BEIJING, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Just over a year after Xi Jinping's visit to three Latin American countries, the Chinese president sets foot again on the continent Monday with a comprehensive agenda to uplift ties and deepen cooperation.
Some Western observers were eager to warn that China's increasing economic ties with Latin America might counter U.S. influence in the region and hurt its strategic interests.
However, such a zero-sum mentality oversimplifies the real situation and misses the big picture of intertwined interests among all parties in a globalized world.
When Secretary of State John Kerry visited the region last year, he called Latin America Washington's "backyard" and was met with strong protest.
Such insensitive behavior, not China's increasing global reach, is one of the causes for what appears to be often troubled U.S.-Latin America relations.
Meanwhile, there has been a strong momentum in China's economic cooperation with and investment in Latin American countries.
In less than two decades, China has emerged as the biggest trade partner to Brazil, Chile and Peru, and is set to overtake the European Union as the region's No. 2 trade partner in 2016, according to United Nation's figures.
The growing economic and trade ties might boost China's influence in Latin America, but that influence does not necessarily come at the cost of U.S. interests.
Rather, China is intended to play a constructive and complementary role in the region.
Investment from and trade with China, as some analysts pointed out, have helped maintain fast and steady growth in Latin American countries, and greatly mitigated impacts of the global financial crisis.
As a developing country, China has shown understanding and respect to the choice of development paths adopted by Latin American countries, and has insisted on win-win cooperation based on equality and mutual trust.
Closer ties between China and the region are natural as they meet the interests of both sides.
What's more, steady growth in China's investment in such fields as infrastructure, energy, finance and agriculture has contributed to creating increasing business opportunities for enterprises all over the world, including large U.S. companies.
For Latin America, it is really a blessing that it now maintains strong economic connections with two of the world's biggest economies, as the region is undergoing an unprecedented process of economic development.
In short, China's interactions with Latin America are no cause for concern.