Washington has long watched China's increasing influence in Latin America with growing concern, scholars told Sputnik, explaining how Beijing may respond to the US' attempts to squeeze it out of the region amid the Venezuelan political crisis.
"There are growing concerns in Washington about China's influence in Latin America," Dr Rubrick Biegon, a lecturer in international relations at the School of Politics and International Relations of the University of Kent, told Sputnik. "Even former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, viewed as a relatively moderate voice within the Trump administration, had evoked the Monroe Doctrine to warn against China's increased presence in the region".
The British academic doubts that "Venezuela is being transformed in a US-China battlefield" but does not rule out that "China's relationship with Venezuela may factor into Washington's interventionist posture".
However, he highlighted that Venezuela has long been in Washington's cross hairs: "The US has viewed the government of Venezuela as an ideological and geopolitical adversary since Hugo Chavez came to power in the late 1990s".
Therefore, the removal of Maduro from office "would accomplish longstanding geopolitical goals that predate the current set of political and economic crises in the country," Dr Biegon opined.
"I think the US's approach to Venezuela is being driven more by longstanding ideological and geopolitical motivations than concerns over China's role in Latin America or the US-China trade dispute," he added.
US Trying to Turn Latin America Into Its Exclusive Political Domain
Evandro Menezes Carvalho, a professor of international law and the director of China studies at Brazil's Getulio Vargas think-tank, believes that Washington is trying "to get back South and Central America as [its] areas of influence and exclusive political domain", after George W. Bush shifted the US' focus to the Middle East.
"The US has realised that China has become the main trading partner of many of [South American] countries and has increased its prestige in the region — which has led some Latin American countries to withdraw recognition of Taiwan as the government of all China," he said.