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Xi's LatAm trip to usher in new era for bilateral ties

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng 丨Xinhua

11-14-2016 12:40 BJT

Full coverage: Xi Visits Ecuador, Peru and Chile, Attends APEC Summit

BEIJING, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to Latin America (LatAm) is expected to improve the all-round cooperative partnership and usher in a new era of bilateral relations.

Xi will pay state visits to Ecuador, Peru and Chile from Nov. 17 to Nov. 23, and attend the 24th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting from Nov. 19 to 20 in Lima, Peru.

This will be Xi's third visit to Latin America since he took the presidency in March 2013, and the visit to Ecuador will be the first since diplomatic relations between the two countries began in 1980.

The visit shows that China and LatAm are striving for win-win cooperation and common development under the principles of mutual trust, mutual benefit and mutual learning.

During Xi's visit, China will discuss free trade arrangements and cooperation in e-commerce, production capacity, industrial parks and infrastructure.

At present, affected by a weaker global market and the falling prices of commodities, LatAm needs capital and technology to improve its manufacturing capabilities, reduce its dependence on the export of raw materials and boost economic transformation.

As China has cost-effective equipment, and LatAm needs infrastructure and industrial upgrading, Xi's visit comes at a time when there are ample opportunities to expand the current relationship.

In fact, China-LatAm ties have been improving. Back in July 2014, Xi and leaders from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) announced the establishment of the China-CELAC Forum. In January 2015, China and the CELAC inked a five-year cooperation plan at the first ministerial meeting of the cooperation forum in Beijing.

The cooperation forum marked a new era of mutual benefit and common development and improved bilateral cooperation in various fields.

In the political sphere, ties have been propelled forward by the exchanges of high-level visits. Peru, the first country in the LatAm region to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership with China, will be Xi's second leg of the visit. Xi's visit to Peru comes hot on the heels of Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's state visit to China in September, which was his first state visit since he assumed the presidency.

Such frequent high-level visits are sure to consolidate traditional friendship and pave the way for future cooperation.

Chile, the last leg of Xi's visit, has always led relations with China. It was the first South American nation to forge diplomatic ties with China, the first LatAm country that signed a bilateral accord with China on China's membership to the World Trade Organization and signed a free trade agreement with China.

In the economic and trade sector, trade volume between China and LatAm has risen more than twenty-fold during the past decade to hit 236.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2015. Currently, China is the second largest trade partner and third largest investment source country of LatAm, while LatAm is China's seventh largest trade partner.

As an emerging economy and the largest developing country in the world, China has always stood with developing countries and performed its due responsibilities commensurate with its status as a global economic power.

China provided cash support of two million dollars and humanitarian aid worth 9.2 million dollars to Ecuador after a fatal earthquake killed 668 people, injured 4,859 and displaced around 80,000 in April.

Furthermore, China provided financial and technical support to help LatAm countries bridge the infrastructure deficit.

Thanks to China's financial support, the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric plant, the largest hydroelectric plant ever constructed by a Chinese company, in northeast Ecuador, is expected to generate 1,500 megawatts of energy and meet 30 percent of Ecuador's demand.

The plant, along with others built by Chinese companies, will help Ecuador transform from a power-hungry country into a clean energy exporter and greatly contribute to the country's economic development.

Within the framework of the China-CELAC Forum, cooperation has also flourished in other areas like education, people-to-people exchanges and culture.

China promised LatAm and Caribbean countries 6,000 government scholarships within five years from 2014.

In addition, various cultural activities have been run in China and LatAm to boost mutual understanding and consolidate the basis for a lasting friendship. Moreover, 2016 is the "Year of Cultural Exchanges" between China and the region.

It is believed that Xi's visit will consolidate the traditional friendship, promote common development and build a community of shared destiny between China and LatAm.

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