From the USA Today (link):
China is expanding military and economic ties throughout Latin America, taking advantage of a wave of anti-American candidates who have come to power and a U.S. law barring military training and aid to a dozen Latin countries.
“China’s profile in the region has been ratcheting up sharply,” said Thomas Shannon, assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Shannon traveled to China last month to discuss with Chinese leaders their country’s growing role in the United States’ backyard. He was the first U.S. official in his position to do so. “We thought it was a good time to talk,” Shannon said.
China’s trade with Latin America was $40 billion in 2004, a 54% increase over 2003, according to the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think tank. China is investing more in Latin America than any region outside Asia, according to a 2005 study by the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.
Army Gen. Bantz Craddock, head of U.S. Southern Command, told the House Armed Services Committee in March that China’s military is stepping up its involvement, “offering resources to cash-strapped militaries and security forces with no strings attached.”