BEIJING, (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s upcoming tour to Latin America is expected to promote friendship and cooperation between China and the region and accelerate integration in the Asia-Pacific.
Xi will visit Ecuador, Peru and Chile from Nov. 17 to 23 and attend the 24th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting from Nov. 19 to 20 in Lima, Peru.
Experts say Xi’s trip will inject dynamism into the development and prosperity of China, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific.
DEEPENING FRIENDSHIP WITH LATIN AMERICA
Xi’s trip to Latin America, which will be the third since he took office in March 2013, is expected to deepen traditional friendship between China and the continent and consolidate the public opinion basis of China-Latin America relations.
Xi’s visit to Ecuador is the first by a Chinese president since the two countries forged diplomatic ties 36 years ago.
In Ecuador, Xi will exchange views with President Rafael Correa on bilateral ties. The two presidents will also witness the signing of a series of deals, meet with the press and attend a launch ceremony of an assistance program.
The two heads of state will blueprint the future of bilateral relations from strategic perspectives, which will promote the China-Ecuador strategic partnership to a new height.
In January 2015 in Beijing, Xi and Correa decided to establish a strategic partnership between their countries. Since then, bilateral ties have entered a new phase of all-round rapid development.
Now, China is Ecuador’s third-largest trading partner and Ecuador is one of the main destinations for Chinese investment and financing in Latin America.
Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Guillaume Long said that all sectors of the Ecuadoran society are looking forward to Xi’s visit and that the historic visit will further deepen the brotherly friendship between the two peoples.
Peru is the second leg of Xi’s visit. China and Peru, both with ancient civilizations, have enjoyed deep friendship. More than 400 years ago, maritime routes between China and Peru were explored, starting trans-oceanic exchanges.
Peru’s close ties with China gives the country a pivotal role in promoting China-Latin America ties.
China has become Peru’s largest trading partner and largest export market, while Peru is one of the first countries with which China conducted international cooperation in production capacity.
During his stay in Peru, Xi is expected to hold talks with President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and deliver a speech at the Peruvian Congress.
Chile, the last leg of Xi’s visit, has always led in developing relations with China. It is the first South American nation that forged diplomatic ties with China, the first Latin American country that signed a bilateral accord with China on China’s joining the World Trade Organization and signed a free trade agreement with China.
Last year, the first clearing bank for transactions in renminbi in South America was opened in Chile’s capital, Santiago.
Xi’s visit is expected to upgrade the China-Chile strategic partnership.During his stay in Chile, he is scheduled to hold talks with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, attend a signing ceremony for agreements and meet with the press.
In the eyes of Liu Yuqin, former Chinese ambassador to Ecuador and Chile, Xi’s Latin America tour has fully reflected that the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core holds a perspective of the overall situation in China’s diplomatic strategy.
“China-Latin America relations have made a great stride since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012. Elevating the strategic position of policies toward Latin America and including Latin America in China’s diplomatic strategy priorities accord with the common interests and realistic demand of both parties,” Liu said.
FURTHERING CHINA-LATIN AMERICA ALL-ROUND COOPERATION
Ernesto Samper, secretary-general of the Union of South American Nations, said Latin American countries eagerly anticipated Xi’s visit. He believed that the visit would greatly promote economic and trade cooperation between China and Latin America and strengthen bilateral all-around cooperation.
In fact, China and Latin America have made great progress in furthering their all-round cooperation in recent years.
In July 2014, Xi and leaders of Latin American and Caribbean countries held a summit in Brasilia, during which both sides decided to establish the China-Latin America comprehensive cooperative partnership of equality, mutual benefit and common development.
In January 2015, the first ministerial meeting of the forum of China and the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States was held in Beijing. Xi attended the meeting and made an important speech.
In 2016, China-Latin America relations have moved forward with the setup of new platforms such as the China-Latin America cultural exchange year and the forum of China-Latin America cooperation between local governments.
Official statistics show that the trade volume between China and Latin America rose more than twentyfold during the past decade to reach 236.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2015.
Currently, China is the second-largest trade partner and third-largest investment source country of Latin-America, while Latin America is China’s seventh-largest trade partner.
Although bilateral trade has been affected by a sluggish global economy and the fall in commodity prices, both parties have been optimizing trade structure, diversifying areas for investment and transforming the model of economic and trade relations from one that used to be led only by trade to one driven by trade, investment and finance.
Now, China and Latin America are facing a new task of comprehensively upgrading their cooperation. Meanwhile, the development of bilateral ties has attracted much attention amid some changes in Latin America.
Against such backdrop, Xi’s Latin America trip will deliver China’s confidence in the stable development of the continent and send a signal of the bright prospects for bilateral cooperation.
“During Xi’s visit, China will put forward a blueprint to enhance China-Latin America economic and trade cooperation. Latin America, which is under the pressure of economic transformation, needs China’s market, production capacity, capital and experience in construction. China’s proposal will be welcome,” said Chen Fengying, an economist with China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
ACCELERATING ASIA-PACIFIC INTEGRATION
Under the theme of “Quality Growth and Human Development,” the 21 APEC members will seek to make decisions to facilitate trade and investment as well as consolidate liberalization policies at the Peru summit.
Xi is expected to deliver a speech to the APEC CEO summit, meet representatives of the APEC business advisory council, attend two phases of the economic leaders’ meeting and have meetings with some leaders.
China has grown into an important leader in Asia-Pacific cooperation.
During the 2014 APEC summit in Beijing, APEC member economies pushed forward the process of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) by sketching out a historic roadmap for FTAAP.
The meeting also adopted important documents for an integrated, innovative and interconnected Asia-Pacific.
Now, the Beijing consensus is becoming reality, with the FTAAP process being carried forward orderly. A collective strategic study on issues related to the realization of FTAAP has been completed and the final version of the study along with recommendations will be presented to leaders at the Peru summit.
“I believe that Xi’s attendance at the meeting will greatly promote the implementation of the fruits yielded at the Beijing summit and push forward FTAAP and connectivity from the highest level to make vision come true,” said Chen, the Chinese economist.