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Chinese ambassador warns U.S. not to drag Latam into trade dispute

Reuters  |  LIMA 

By and Marco Aquino

LIMA (Reuters) - China's to warned on Wednesday that it would be disrespectful for the to drag into its trade dispute with Beijing, but told a potential trade war between the world's top two economies could bolster the region's exports.

Speaking on the eve of the Summit of the that will bring leaders from across the western hemisphere to this week, the downplayed reports that the U.S. planned to use the event to urge Latin American leaders to work with and not on trade.

Doing so would show "contempt not just for but also Latin America," Jia said in an interview, citing Latin America's history of colonialism.

Before the announced on Tuesday that U.S. decided to skip the summit to focus on Syria, a U.S. told journalists he planned to argue that the should "remain the partner of choice" for Latin American countries.

The comments raised the prospect that the trade dispute between the and that rocked markets last week could spill over into Latin America, a resource-rich region where has made significant inroads.

Stock markets have since risen as Chinese has eased investor fears of a trade war by promising to cut import restrictions..

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, an influential Republican on Latin American issues who will be at the summit with U.S. Vice Mike Pence, said he wants the to make it clear China's involvement in the region was unacceptable.

Jia said, "actions speak louder than words. He pointed to Chinese trade with that he said had surged 18.8 percent to nearly $260 billion last year alone.

"has become the biggest or the second biggest trade partner for a majority of Latin American countries," Jia said. "Every day more Latin American products enter "

But Jia denied has any intention of meddling in Latin American affairs, which he said would only risk hurting its ties to the region.

"We truly despise the carrot and stick approach," Jia said in a veiled swipe at Trump's threats to cut aid or impose tariffs on Latin American nations that do not do more to further efforts to create more U.S. jobs and combat drug trafficking.

Jia declined to comment on Trump's decision not to attend the summit, which would have marked the U.S. president's first visit to since taking office last year, but mentioned Chinese Xi has visited three times in the past four years.

Trump's absence from the Summit of the will mark the first time a U.S. has not been a part of the event since it began in 1994.

In another first, will be attend the summit as an observer, said.

Jia reiterated China's view that it does not want a trade war with the but that it is not afraid of one either. A trade war would hurt global trade, but could deliver some benefits to Latin America, he said.

"If doesn't import goods from the it's going to import them from other countries ... in that sense the disputes between and the could bring opportunities," said Jia.

(Reporting By and Marco Aquino; editing by Clive McKeef)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, April 12 2018. 06:22 IST