With its ever-growing economic muscle and international political clout, China has quietly begun pitching itself to Latin and South American countries as an “alternative model to ending poverty,” threatening the United States’ long dominant influence in the region.

Gonzalo Sebastián Paz, lecturer in international affairs at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., tackles the increasingly important question of China’s role in the Western Hemisphere and its ramifications for American foreign policy Monday, May 22 in an address at Lawrence University.

Paz presents “Latin America and China: Dangerous Relations?” at 4:30 p.m. in Lawrence’s Main Hall, Room 201. A question-and-answer session will follow the talk. The event is free and open to the public.

Amid a backdrop that has seen China earmark billions of dollars for infrastructure, transport, energy and defense projects in Latin America, the United States dispatched Thomas Shannon, assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, to Beijing early last month for discussions with Chinese authorities about their growing Latin American alliances. Shortly thereafter, Hu Jintao, China’s president, paid a visit to the White House to meet with President Bush.

In his address, Paz will put both trips into context by examining the expansion of China’s economic, political and strategic interests in the region. He will assess Chinese goals and discuss which Latin American countries are most receptive to China’s overtures. He also will discuss American interests and reactions to China’s new-found attention in Latin America and how that attention will impact future relations with the United States.

A recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, an OAS Fellowship and a Korea Foundation Fellowship, Paz has taught a course on the economic and political development of Argentina at The George Washington University since 2002. He previously taught graduate courses on the Southern Cone and Latin America at Argentina’s La Plata National University and the University of Salvador. He also has served as a consultant to the Inter-American Development Bank.

He earned both a law and master’s degree from the National University of Córdoba in Argentina.

Paz’ appearance is sponsored by the Lawrence Spanish Department and the Center for Latin American Studies at UW-Milwaukee.