BEIJING, Aug.18 (Xinhua) -- A senior U.S. official said China's increasing presence in Latin America was not a concern or a threat to his country.
"It is certainly not a concern, not a threat. We very much welcome China's continued engagement, investment and trade with countries in the western hemisphere," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela told press on Wednesday.
Valenzuela made the comments in response to Xinhua's question whether the United States was concerned or threatened as China establishes itself as an important economic player in Latin America, a region widely seen as the U.S.'s backyard.
"We think that (China's engagement) helps strengthen economies and provide employment for people in the region," Valenzuela said.
He said China's trade with Latin America was only 5 percent of its trade worldwide. "If that can grow, it is extremely valuable for the countries in the western hemisphere."
By contrast, the U.S.'s trade with countries in the western hemisphere was about 40 percent of its world trade. Historically, the United States has had a very significant trading relationship with Latin American countries, he said.
Valenzuela came to Beijing on Monday for the fourth round of U.S.-China sub-dialogues on Latin America. Initiated in 2006, the consultations occur under the auspices of the China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue.
"But this is the first time that the dialogue took place under the new Obama administration," Valenzuela said.
He said the dialogue was based on real objectives. "The fundamental objective is to ensure the prosperous growing economy in the western hemisphere and that benefits us all."
Taiwan has maintained "diplomatic ties" with some countries in Latin America, but that was not discussed by Valenzuela in the dialogue. "That is a footnote in our discussions and does not become a major thing."
Valenzuela said the U.S. position on the issue is clear. "We don't support independence for Taiwan."