The year 2004 will be remembered as one in which an increasingly confident China jumped into Latin America, a geopolitical and geoeconomic space always considered by the United States as its “backyard.” In 2005 and 2006 that policy continued and was sustained. The central questions addressed in this article are: Why is China executing an economic and diplomatic offensive in Latin America? Is a rising China challenging U.S. hegemony over the Western Hemisphere? And, how has the United States responded to these actions? The main argument advanced here is that there is an economic rationale behind China’s new foreign policy toward Latin America, and that the theses about an ideological or a strategic rationale must be rejected. China’s goal is to secure the provision of agricultural products, minerals, and especially oil. China is not trying to challenge American hegemony in Latin America, but it is the first Asian country to push enough to concern American analysts. The article will provide empirical evidence of the new level and quality of China-Latin America relations.