Why has China snubbed Cuba and Venezuela?

From The Economist
June 6, 2013

XI JINPING’S first visit to Latin America and the Caribbean as China’s president, from May 31st to June 6th, took him tantalisingly close to Beijing’s strongest ideological allies in the region, Cuba and Venezuela. Yet he steered clear of both of them. Instead of visiting Cuba, as his predecessor Hu Jintao did on his first presidential trip to the region, Mr Xi stopped off in an English-speaking Caribbean nation, Trinidad and Tobago, which (as if to rub it in) is only a short hop from Caracas. He then travelled to Costa Rica and Mexico (pictured)—two countries that are at least as much a part of America’s orbit as Cuba and Venezuela are part of the “Beijing Consensus”. Why this snub to two friendly nations that have been lavished with Chinese largesse in recent years, especially at a time when both are struggling to come to terms with the death in March of Hugo Chávez, the Cuba- and China-loving Venezuelan leader?

However, as our story on Mr Xi’s visit to Latin America points out, he may have had other reasons for picking the destinations that he did. Firstly, he may be trying to respond to Mr Obama’s “pivot” to Asia by showing that China is developing its own sphere of influence in America’s backyard. China’s business relationship with Latin America gets less attention than its dealings with Africa, but in terms of investment, it is much bigger…

In terms of funding, Kevin Gallagher of Boston University says China has provided more loans to Latin America since 2005 than the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank combined.

Read the full article at Economist.com.