Has China been a hegemonic challenge to the United States in Latin America in recent years? The article explores this question by setting a comparison with historical cases of instances of hegemonic challenge in Latin America, searching for similarities and differences, and looking for makers of rivalry as a way to start to distinguish perception from reality. I stress the instrumentality of framing issues, since they serve for internal mobilization and for control of allies. The article also attempts to illuminate the issue of how the United States has reacted to China's growing presence in an area historically considered within its sphere of interests, or “backyard,” and about the dialogue between the United States and China about the region. It provides insights on the United States, China and Latin American countries’ policy makers’ thinking, collected through off-the- record interviews and closed-door debriefings.