China and Colombia have upgraded their relationship to a “strategic partnership.” This move indicates that Colombia, which has historically been a US ally, is aligning itself more closely with Beijing. Colombia’s president, Gustavo Petro, visited China and met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. They signed a “strategic partnership” agreement, making Guyana the only South American country without this designation from Beijing. China has been working to strengthen ties with South America, signing a free trade agreement with Ecuador and building a controversial megaport in Peru. Gaining influence in Colombia is particularly attractive to China as it is a key US ally at the center of the American continent with access to the Caribbean and Pacific. Petro’s visit to China followed a diplomatic spat with Israel and the US over his comments regarding Palestinians in Gaza. Analysts are concerned about Petro’s impulsivity and ability to navigate relations between Washington and Beijing. During the visit, China and Colombia agreed to collaborate on various areas, including beef and quinoa exports and science and technology. While Colombia is not part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Petro stated that they would discuss the scheme. Petro also laid a wreath at the mausoleum of Mao Zedong and met with Chinese companies working on a metro system in Bogotá. China is Colombia’s second-largest trade partner after the US, and they are seeking to increase Colombian exports to China.
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