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China's Relations with Latin American Countries
After the founding of the People's Republic of China, Chinese relations with Latin American countries were seriously affected by the United States' China policy. Nevertheless, this did not cut off the friendly relations between the peoples of China and Latin America.

The Chinese people firmly supported the peoples of Cuba, Panama and Dominica in their struggle for safeguarding their national sovereignty and opposing external aggression.

After China established diplomatic ties with Cuba in the 1960s and with 12 countries including Mexico, Argentina and Brazil in the 1970s, Sino-Latin American relations were strengthened. Both sides supported each other and cooperated on major international issues. In 1971, many Latin American countries supported the restoration of China's lawful seat in the United Nations at the 26th UN General Assembly. China extended sympathy and support for Latin American countries on such issues as 200 nautical miles maritime rights and the Latin American nuclear-free zone.

Since the 1980s, Sino-Latin American friendly relations of cooperation have continued to develop quickly. The countries which have diplomatic relations with China have increased to 19. Those countries which have not had diplomatic relations with China are considering developing relations with China.

The past two decades have witnessed frequent high level exchanges between China and Latin American countries. Forty presidents and prime ministers from Latin America have visited China. Chinese leaders Jiang Zemin, Li Peng, Qiao Shi, Zhu Rongji, Li Ruihuan and Hu Jintao have paid visits to Latin America as well.

The relations between China and multilateral organizations and institutions in the Latin American region have become closer with political consultations and dialogues intensified.

Since 1990, China has maintained the dialogues of foreign ministers with the Rio Group, a most typical regional political consultation body in Latin America.

In 1994, China became an observer state of the Latin American Integration Association.

In May 1997, the Caribbean Development Bank officially accepted China as its member state. In October the same year, a delegation of the South Common Market, an important organization of the South American integration, visited China, holding its first dialogue with China.

China and Latin American countries share the same or similar views on many major international issues. They have supported each other and well cooperated in such international organizations as the United Nations. A majority of Latin American countries support China's entry into the WTO.

Economic and trade cooperation between China and Latin American countries has flourished with total import and export value raising from US$1.26 billion in 1979 to US$8.375 billion in 1997.

In addition, the progress in Sino-Latin American cooperation in the fields of economy, investment, and science and technology is satisfying.

High-Level Exchanges

In 1990, Chinese President Yang Shangkun, Vice Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee Ngapoi Ngawang Jigmei and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen paid visits to Latin American countries.

The same year, President of Argentina Carlos Saul Menem, Vice President and President of National Congress of Bolivia Luis Ossio Sanjines, Prime Minister of Barbados Lloyd Erskine Sandiford, parliamentary leaders from Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela, foreign affair ministers of Guyana, Ecuador and Uruguay all visited China.

In 1991, Latin American state leaders who visited China included President Alberto Fujimori and first vice president and president of the Senate of Peru, the president of the Chamber of Deputies of Bolivia, secretary of foreign affairs of Mexico, Prime Minister of Jamaica Michael Norman Manley, vice president of the Council of State of Cuba Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, minister of foreign affairs of Brazil, President of Chamber of Deputies of Chile Jose Antonio Viera Gallo, President Candidate and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia Luis Fernando Jaramillo and the minister of foreign affairs of Venezuela.

In 1992, Premier Li Peng led a Chinese government delegation to attend the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Li's proposition on laying equal stress on environmental protection and economic development met with general approval from Latin American countries and the international community.

During the conference, Li held talks with President of Brazil Fernando Collor de Mello on issues including the bilateral relations. He also met with President of Argentina Menem, President of Chile Patricio Aylwin Azocar, President of Mexico Carlos Salinas de Gortari, President of Peru Alberto Fujimori, Cuba President of Council of State Fidel Castro Ruz and the representative of the president of Suriname on different occasions.

In November 1993, President Jiang Zemin paid a state visit to Brazil. On the way he visited Cuba. This was the first visit by Jiang since he became the president of China, a testimony to the fact that China attached great attention to maintaining and developing friendly and cooperative relations with Latin American countries. In his speech made in Brazil, Jiang said that both China and Brazil were facing the task of developing economy and hoped to become more prosperous.

Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen who accompanied Jiang to Brazil said at a press conference that there were no conflicts of interests between China and Latin American countries. The two sides were in a similar situation and are complementary in economy. With the end of the Cold War, Qian said, China and Latin American countries shared more common interests and further developing cooperation of mutual benefits conformed to the common aspiration of the peoples on both sides.

Jiang also exchanged views on bilateral relations between China and Brazil and Cuba and international issues of common concern with President of Brazil Itamar Franco and Fidel Castro, President of the Cuban State Council.

Between November and December, President of Uruguay Luis Alberto Lacalle Herrera, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana Cheddi B. Jagan and President of Mexico Carlos Salinas de Gortari paid state visits to China. In addition, China received visits from former President of Uruguay Julio Maria Sanguinetti, former President of Venezuela Rafael Caldera Rodriguez, former President of Mexico Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado and former President of Brazil Jose Sarney.

In April 1994, General Chi Haotian, State Councilor and Minister of Defense, paid visits to Brazil, Uruguay and Chile and met with presidents of these three countries. This was the first visit by a minister of defense to Latin America since the founding of New China.

In 1994, three presidents and one vice-president from Latin American countries visited China. They were: President of the Republic of Ecuador Sixton Buran-Ballen (March), President of Suriname Runaldo Ronald Venetiaan (May), President of Peru Fujimori (June) and Vice President of Bolivia and President of the Bolivian National Congress Victor Hugo Cardenas (October).

In October 1995, Premier Li Peng paid visits to Mexico and Peru. He delivered a speech titled “China's Economic Development and Sino-Latin America Cooperation” at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, in which he put forward the five basic principles guiding the development of relations between China and Latin America.

In June, Li Ruihuan, Chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, paid visits to Cuba, Jamaica, Brazil and Chile.

In May, State Councilor and Minister of the State Commission for Restructuring the Economy Li Tieying visited Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.

In 1995, a number of Latin American state leaders including four presidents made state visits to China. These four presidents were President of Argentina Carlos Saul Menem (October), President of Chile Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle (November), President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba Fidel Castro (November) and President of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso (December). President of Peru Fujimori attended the Fourth UN World Conference on Women which was held in Beijing as a specially invited guest by the Chinese government (September). The vice president of Colombia Guetavo Bell (April) and first vice president of Peru (June) respectively paid working visits to China.

In 1996, Premier of State Council Li Peng paid official and goodwill visits to Chile, Brazil and Venezuela. At the headquarters of the Latin American Economic System, Li delivered a speech titled "Together Write A New Chapter of Friendly Cooperation Between China and Latin America" in which he expounded China's five principles concerning developing Sino-Latin American relations and put forward four priorities in expanding economic and trade cooperation.

In April, Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee Qiao Shi visited Cuba.

Between January and February, Vice Premier Zhu Rongji paid visits to Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

In August, Vice Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee Chen Muhua made visits to Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador.

In September, Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, while attending the UN General Assembly, met respectively with ministers of foreign affairs of Mexico, Brazil, Cuba and Colombia, and held sixth collective dialogue with the foreign ministers of the Rio Group member states.

President of Colombia Ernesto Samper Pizano and President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon paid state visits to China in October and November of 1996 respectively.

In January 1997, Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee Hu Jintao paid official and goodwill visits to Cuba, Mexico and Colombia.

In November, President Jiang Zemin visited Mexico, the first state visit by the Chinese head of state to Mexico. During his stay in Mexico, Jiang held talks with President Zedillo. He pointed out that many common points shared by the two countries provided a solid basis for friendly ties. The visit was fruitful in terms of deepening mutual understanding and friendship and looking into future for further cooperation.

This year China also hosted the visit of President of Uruguay Julio Maria Sanguinetti, Prime Minister of Bahamas Hubert Alexander Ingraham, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Lester Bryant Bird, First Vice President of the Council of State and First Vice Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba Raul Castro Ruz.

In November 1998, President Jiang Zemin, while attending the sixth informal summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, met with President of Peru Fujimori and President of Chile Frei separately, exchanging views on issues of common concern with them.

President of Surinam Jules Wijdenbosch and the prime minister of Jamaica visited China this year as well.

Between April and May 1999, Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee Wei Jianxing paid official and good-will visits to Cuba, Uruguay and Argentina.

Latin American state leaders who visited China this year include President of Colombia Andres Pastrana and the prime minister of Saint Lucia.

Economic and Trade Cooperation

In 1992, the trade value between China and Latin America made a historical record, reaching US$2.97 billion. In December that year, China's Capital Iron and Steel Co., through a bid, purchased the Peru Iron Mine Co. at a price of US$120 million, which became the largest project of investment of China in Latin America. By the end of 1992, China has set up some 80 joint ventures of various types in 17 Latin American countries and regions.

As the economies of China and Latin America complement each other to a great extent, Sino-Latin America economic and trade cooperation in 1994 was elevated to a new scale. The trade value between the two sides broke the historical record for three running years, with bilateral import and export value totaling US$4.7 billion, up 26.8 percent over 1993.

By the end of 1994, China had signed agreements on economic and technological cooperation with 14 Latin American countries and agreements on encouraging and mutually protecting investments with seven countries.

To promote further development of Sino-Latin American economic and trade relations, the financial and banking sector of the both sides strengthened contacts. In July 1994, the Bank of China's Panama Branch opened to business. This was the first bank China opened in Latin America.

In 1995, China signed inter-governmental trade agreements with 13 Latin American countries, agreements on economy and technology or economic cooperation with 14 countries, and agreements on encouraging and mutually protecting investments with eight countries. In addition, China held inter-governmental economic and trade meetings with Cuba, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia and Colombia. Many agreements, summary of minutes and exchanges of notes were signed.

The year 1997 saw an increasing expansion of the economic and trade cooperation between China and Latin American countries. New progress was made in joint development and utilization of natural resources. The trade value between the two sides reached US$8.375 billion, up 24.5 percent over the previous year.

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