A cricket stadium in Grenada. Oil fields off the coast of Brazil. An abundance of "chop suey de pollo."
The Chinese are in Latin America, and they're here to stay.
China is now the region's third largest trading partner, behind the United States and the European Union, and will soon overtake the latter.
Just how big is the Chinese presence? It's big and growing, says a report out this week from the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Chinese direct investment in Latin America in 2010 totalled $15 billion. That's more than double the amount invested between 1990 and 2009.
The Chinese government and corporations play three main roles: as an exporter of manufactured goods; a buyer of raw materials; and a player in export markets.
China's hunger for raw materials is well known, and its interest in Latin America appears no exception. More than 90 percent of Chinese investment in the region has gone toward natural resource extraction.
The biggest investments have gone toward copper mining in Peru and coal, oil and natural gas in Argentina and Brazil and iron-ore mining in Brazil.
There are plenty more examples of the growing Chinese presence:
- Why is China investing billions in the Caribbean?: The Caribbean lacks commodities, it's not a major producer of raw materials and it has relatively little buying power. Yet China is spending big there.
- Chopstick diplomacy in Chile: Chinese restaurants are popping up in Santiago as China quietly wields its soft power by promoting Chinese food.
- Can a land route rival the Panama Canal?: China and Colombia are talking about building 250 miles of railroad to link Colombia's Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
- China's Brazilian shopping spree: While Chinese investors spent the last decade buying up natural resources across Africa, this year they’ve begun an unprecedented shopping spree in Brazil.
Source: U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean