Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, March 16, 2005

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For IMMEDIATE Release

China’s Influence in the Western Hemisphere
Burton Schedules Wednesday Oversight Hearing

BACKGROUND: China is moving rapidly to develop better relations with the nations of Latin America, competing for access to such commodities as iron, copper, steel, integrated circuits and other electrical machinery, soybeans, and perhaps most significant - oil.  While most analysts appear to agree that China’s primary focus is on acquiring greatly needed resources, others fear that China could pose a potential threat to future United States (U.S.) influence in the region.  The Subcommittee will examine the motives behind China’s ambitions, as well as possible implications for U.S. markets given the increased competition from less expensive Chinese imports.  “China is moving aggressively to expand its influence in the region through billions of dollars in the form of direct investments, emerging trade agreements, and massive infrastructure development projects,” stated Chairman Burton.  China’s imports from Latin America grew from almost $3 billion in 1999 to $21.7 billion in 2004 – a more than 600 percent increase in just five years.  China’s exports to Latin America have also grown considerably in the last five years, from $5.3 billion in 1999 to $18.3 billion in 2004.  And the recent high-profile visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to several Latin American countries in November of 2004 raised expectations of even more substantial increases in Chinese investment in the Western Hemisphere in the coming years.  Several Latin American countries – including Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and Venezuela – have conferred the status of “market economy” on China, a distinction that precludes anti-dumping tariffs on cheap Chinese imports.  Energy concerns also play an especially significant role in China’s strategic Western Hemisphere diplomacy with a number of commercial arrangements pending in Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia, as well as offshore projects in Argentina.  There is also a political dynamic, given that the region is home to 12 of the 25 remaining countries that still maintain official diplomatic relations with Taiwan.  “It is quite clear that China is greasing the wheels throughout the Western Hemisphere to increase its influence in the region,” said Chairman Burton, adding, “I have serious concerns about China’s motives, especially given its long-standing track record of artificially inflating its currency, decades of egregious human rights practices, and a general lack of transparency in their government.  Now more than ever, the emerging democracies in the Western Hemisphere need our help to ensure that they move forward and establish lasting institutions that embrace the rule of law, freedom of speech, and government accountability.”                                                                                     

WHAT:                Oversight Hearing: China’s Influence in the Western Hemisphere
     Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere,
U.S. Rep. Dan Burton (R-IL), Chairman

WHEN:                1:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 6, 2005

WHERE:              Room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES:       Roger F. Noriega, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State;
                             Rogelio Pardo-Maurer,
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense;
                             Peter T.R. Brookes,
Senior Fellow, The Heritage Foundation;
                             June Teufel-Dreyer, Ph.D.,
Commissioner, U.S. – China Economic and Security Review Commission and
                             Cynthia Watson, Ph.D., Professor of Strategy, The National War College, National Defense University.

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