In the hinterland of Argentina, Mario Pizarro’s office looks like a shrine to China. There’s the framed photo of a Chinese peasant with Pizarro’s face superimposed beneath the conical farmer hat. There’s the blue-robed smiling Buddha statue. And there’s the model wind turbine from a Chinese company with an inscription in English and Mandarin: "Create Our Future Together.”

Pizarro, 62, is the energy secretary of Jujuy, a province high in the Andes that borders Bolivia and Chile. Overlooking a river, his office building is ordinary — shabby, even — but the projects he and his colleagues oversee are anything but. And the one country that’s made them all possible is China.

Chinese technology and money have helped build one of Latin America’s largest solar energy plants in Jujuy, where hundreds of thousands of panels coat the desert like giant dominoes. Chinese security cameras guard government buildings across the provincial capital. Servers hum in a Chinese data-storage plant.