Xi promises to build on cooperation with region

Updated: 2014-07-15 04:11

By ZHAO SHENGNAN (China Daily)

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President Xi Jinping, on his second trip to Latin America as president in just over a year, pledged on Tuesday to strengthen cooperation with the region and highlighted the benefits of forging stronger ties.

Chinese observers said Xi's frequent trips to Latin America — he has visited at least 11 countries in the region since 2009 — shows Beijing's determination to build a growing relationship with the region as both strive for improved development.

China would like to make full use of the China-CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) forum for greater cooperation, Xi said in an interview with reporters from Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba, as reported by China Central Television on Tuesday.

From Wednesday to July 23, Xi will attend the sixth BRICS summit in Brazil and pay state visits to Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba.

During this trip, Xi, together with leaders from the BRICS countries, will meet leaders from the Union of South American Nations in the first dialogue of its kind.

Leaders from China and Latin America will also announce the establishment of the China-CELAC forum, which is expected to hold its first ministerial meeting in Beijing later this year.

"Since the new Chinese leadership came into power, Beijing has highlighted the importance of Latin America, a region with a thriving economy but with bilateral trade that is still below its full potential," said the Latin American Herald Tribune.

Last summer, Xi visited Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Mexico and met with leaders from eight Caribbean nations. He also made two trips to Latin America in 2009 and 2011 as China's vice-president.

Wang Zhen, former Chinese ambassador to Venezuela, said China and Latin America are both at critical stages of development. Wang said for each to develop economically and to coordinate on international affairs, cooperation is key.

"China is increasingly open to the world while the resources-rich Latin America needs China's immense market," said Wang. "The landmark China-CELAC forum would play an impressive role in the future to lift China's relations with the region as a whole."

Trade volume between China and Latin America reached a record $261.57 billion in 2013, almost 21 times the volume in 2000.

In less than two decades, China has emerged as the biggest trade partner to Brazil, Chile and Peru, and is set to overtake the European Union as the region's second-largest trade partner in 2016, according to the United Nations' figures.

Xinhua contributed to this story.