The article analyzes geopolitical rivalry between the United States and China in Latin America. The goal of the article is to define the reasons for the decline of the US strategic capabilities as the main regional actor. The objectives of the article are to explain the domestic and international context, discern the key interests of Washington and Beijing in Central and South America, analyze foreign policy decision-making mechanisms in the USA and the PRC. The author emphasizes two blocks of problems – strategic and systemic. The former includes the peculiarities of the political and economic cooperation with two powers of the countries of the region. The latter pertains to a thorough study of the structure and functioning of foreign policy decision-making mechanisms in China and the USA. Vaccine supplies and deployment of 5G will be applied as the cases for explanation of those aspects.
After the end of the Cold war the spectrum of the US prime interests was gradually turning towards the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. The "vacuum of leadership" emerged in Latin America, the one that could be filled by China.
Inability of the American political establishment to elaborate a new concept of dialogue-building with the southern neighbors became one of the reasons for China's success. Ideological discrepancy and application of a value-based approach have adversely affected the US relations with Latin-American countries.
China has always been mainly interested in economic cooperation and never insisted on the reform of the political system. Beijing has been cultivating its influence through its landmark – the "BRI" project. New infrastructural initiatives and increased flow of investments allowed the Chinese pharmaceutical and technological companies to broker several deals with regional governments and private distributors and supplant western analogues.
Besides, a simplified foreign policy decision-making model, manifested in the absence of the system of checks and balances, made it possible for the President of the PRC to concentrate unlimited power in his hands. It does increase the efficiency of China's strategic tools, making them, at the same, less applicable in the long-term.