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China has moved aggressively to fill a vacuum left by the United States in recent years, as the U.S. focused on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the global economic crisis sapped its economy.
"China is rising while the U.S. is declining in Latin America," Riordan Roett, a professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins University, said by telephone while visiting Sao Paulo. "China is all over this region. They are following a state-driven policy to expand their peaceful presence."