On February 14, China and Mexico celebrated the 30th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries. Since 1972, the friendly and cooperative relationship between China and Mexico has gradually extended from politics into fields of economy and trade, science and technology, culture and education, with remarkable achievements made.
Echeverria, Founder of Sino-Mexican Friendship
In 1970, Luis Echeverria Alvarez was elected president of Mexico. He was an outstanding statesman from the Third World. During the period he was in office (1970-1976), Echeverria made great adjustments in Mexico's foreign policy. He put forward the principle of "diversified foreign relations," emphasizing peaceful co-existence between countries with different political systems and different ideologies and initiating "Third Worldism." He attached great importance to developing friendly relations with China and took action to improve Mexican ties with China soon after he came to power. In 1971, he pointed out in his speech at the 26th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations that "China's sovereignty and territorial integrity cannot be separated by law." He voted for restoration of China's lawful seat in the UN and rejected the motion from the Taiwan representative. After the resolution of the resumption of China's legal status to the UN was adopted by the session, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico issued a communique immediately on October 25, recognizing the People's Republic of China as the "sole legal representative" of the whole of China. On November 16, the Mexican government declared the severing of diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
On February 14, 1972, the Chinese Representative to the UN, Huang Hua, and Mexico’s representative signed in New York the joint communique on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which was published simultaneously by the two sides the next day. In May 1972, the Mexican embassy to China was established in Beijing, and in June the same year Chinese embassy to Mexico was established in Mexico City.
Not long after the establishment of diplomatic ties, Mexican President Echeverria led a large delegation to China in April 1973. The Chinese government and people accorded him a grand and warm reception. Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong met him. Premier Zhou Enlai held five talks with President Echeverria and accompanied him on his visits to other Chinese cities.
Mutual High-level Visits
A high-level exchange of visits between China and Mexico has been frequent since 1972. Following Echeverria, other Mexican presidents including Jose Lopez Portillo (1978), Miguel de la Madrid (1986), Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1993) and Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon (1996) visited China. In June 2001, President Vincente Fox, half a year after he assumed his presidency, paid a visit to China, which shows that the new Mexican government values its relations with China. In October, President Fox attended the ninth APEC non-official leaders' summit in east China's Shanghai. In 2001, China also received visits by presidents of the National Action Party, Revolutionary Institutional Party and Democratic Party, three major political parties in Mexico.
At the invitation of the Mexican government, many Chinese leaders paid visits to Mexico. In October 1981, Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang paid an official visit to Mexico after he attended the South-North government leaders' summit on cooperation and development which was held in Cancun, Mexico. He was the first Chinese government head to visit a Latin American country. In May 1990, Chinese President Yang Shangkun paid a state visit to Mexico, the first visit to Mexico by a Chinese head of state. On October 6-9, 1995, Chinese Premier Li Peng paid an official visit to Mexico at the invitation of Mexican President Zedillo.
From November 30 to December 3, 1997, Chinese President Jiang Zeming paid a state visit to Mexico. During his visit, the two countries signed four agreements: Agreement of the People's Republic of China and the United States of Mexico on Mutual Exemption of Diplomatic and Official Visas, Sports Cooperation Agreement Between Chinese State Physical Cultural and Sports Commission and Mexican National Sports Commission, Scientific and Technological Exchanges Agreement Between the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Mexican National Council of Science and Technology, and Agreement of China Xinjiang Xin Tian International Economic and Technological Cooperation (Group) Corporation and the Agricultural Trust Foundation of Mexican Bank on Comprehensive Exploitation of Land in Mexico.
Growing Trade Relations
Mexico is one of the major trade partners of China in Latin America. The bilateral trade volume stood at only US$12.99 million when the two countries established formal diplomatic ties in 1972, but rose to US$235 million in 1991. In 2000, bilateral trade volume amounted to US$1.8236 billion, of which Chinese export accounted for US$1.3353 billion while Chinese import accounted for US$488.3 million. Mexico became China's third-largest trade partner in Latin America. Of course, problems exist in China-Mexican trade. Thanks to their good quality and cheap prices, Chinese goods have been well received by Mexican people. The inflow of Chinese commodities in large quantity affected to a certain degree the national industries of Mexico and occasioned complaints from local entrepreneurs who urged government to take measures to protect national industries. In April 1993, Mexico carried out anti-dumping investigations on 10 categories of more than 4,000 tariff codes of Chinese export products and levied high anti-dumping duties -- over 1,000 percent on shoes -- on commodities which accounted for three-fourths of Chinese exports to Mexico. Due to the representations of the Chinese government and the investigations conducted by the Mexican side, the Mexican government eliminated some tariff codes on Chinese commodities. On September 13, 2001, with joint efforts of both sides, China and Mexico reached agreement on China's entry into WTO, smoothing the way for China's final WTO accession.
Recent years have seen growth in economic cooperation between China and Mexico. In December 1997, China Xinjiang Xin Tian International Economic and Technological Cooperation (Group) Corporation and the Agricultural Trust Foundation of Mexican Bank signed the Agreement on Comprehensive Exploitation of Land in Mexico. According to the agreement, a total of US$28.9828 million would be invested in developing 10,000 hectares (29,899.8 acres) of land for growing rice, cotton, fruits and aquatic culture. In 1998, the land yielded over 4,800 tons of rice. The sales income stood at US$500,000, with a net profit of some US$100,000. The company has registered in Mexico the Mexico Xin Tian Variable Capital Co., Ltd. and "Maya Hualong" brand of quality rice. It has also found a niche in the market of central and northern Mexico. In May 2001, a cotton mill of the Huayuan Textile Co., Ltd funded by China was completed and put into operation in northern Mexico's Sonora.
Fruitful Sci-Tech Cooperation
Sino-Mexican scientific and technological cooperation started in 1973, with exchanges of gifts including seeds of wheat, rice, corn, cotton, Chinese sorghum, rape, tomato, cucumber, green pepper, watermelon, muskmelon, cowpea and coffee. In the following years, the two countries signed many agreements involving several hundred cooperative projects. Such cooperation has been fruitful in 10 fields of agriculture, fishery, mining industry, petrochemical industry, post and telecommunications, aquatic culture, traditional Chinese medicine, rural development, social development and natural sciences.
Over the past 20 years, a number of Chinese scientists and technicians have visited Mexico on inspection and study trips covering deep-well oil drilling, comprehensive utilization of oil and gas fields, remote sensing technology and new special drilling technology in regions with drifting topsoil, lubricating oil additives, seismic resistance in architectural engineering, papermaking, medicine, meteorology, earthquake forecasting, sisal hemp processing, breeding and culture of fruits, vegetable and corn, soil study and analysis, ocean fishing, culture and medicinal herb, stone dam technology, soft soil engineering, prospecting and exploration of silver mines, underground continuous wall designing and construction, oil survey and exploration in marine sulfate regions, and cotton production and research.
China has also received Mexican technicians on inspection and study trips in the follow fields: veterinary medicine, rice, wheat, soybean, vegetable, cotton, water conservancy, weather forecasting, freshwater fish culture, biogas, hydropower, silkworm culture and silk weaving, ceramics, bamboo and wooden furniture, earthquake forecasting, afforestation, acupuncture and moxibustion, limb transplanting technology, disease prevention and treatment through biological resources, treatment against skin diseases and asthma, production of meteorological instruments, earth works, water plants and bio-system.
Rich Cultural Exchanges
The exchanges between China and Mexico in cultural, education, health and sports have been extensive. In 1978, the two countries reached an agreement on cultural cooperation and in the meantime, set up a combined committee to take charge of talks and signing of annual cultural exchange programs. In 1993, the two countries signed an agreement on protection and renovation of historical relics cooperation.
The exchange of visits by delegations from cultural fields of the two countries has been frequent. China has sent a government cultural delegation, a film delegation, a writers' delegation, a Chinese Federation of Literary and Art Circles delegation, a radio and TV delegation and a delegation of scholars in Tibetan study to visit Mexico. Meanwhile, she has received many individual Mexican visitors including writers, artists and editors in addition to official cultural delegations.
During the past decades, China presented many important exhibitions in Mexico, including a handicrafts and fine arts exhibition, traditional Chinese painting exhibition, Chinese stamps exhibition, Shandong culture and arts exhibition, exhibition of paintings of the Ming and Qing Dynasty collected in the Palace Museum, traditional Chinese painting exhibition from Jiangsu Provincial Arts Gallery, bronze ware exhibition from Shanghai Museum, and a Jiangxi lacquer paintings exhibition. Mexico has also given various exhibitions in China. They have included: Mexican arts exhibition, folk crafts and fine arts exhibition, exhibition of woodcuts by Posata, exhibition of paintings by Guatalupe, Mexican stamps exhibition, exhibition of works by 10 photographers, exhibition of paintings collected by Latin American Embassy in China, exhibition of paintings by Leyes, architectural photos exhibition, people and folkway exhibition, exhibition of photographic works by Plavo, exhibition of woodcuts by Entriques, and exhibition of folk arts from northwestern Mexico.
From September 2000 to March 2001, the Historical Relic Exhibition of China in the Imperial Time: Xi'an Dynasty, was held in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City and also in Monterrey. From September 2000 to January 2002, Maya -- Mexican Ancient Culture Exhibition was held in the Xi'an Terra-cotta Warrior Museum, Guangzhou-based King Nanyue of Western Han Mausoleum Museum, China Centennial Altar and Shanghai Museum. With these, China and Mexico, two countries with ancient civilizations, began cultural dialogues in a real sense at the very beginning of the new century. The two exhibitions raised a "Chinese culture wave" and a "Maya culture wave" respectively in Mexico and China. Mexican President Zedillo attended the opening ceremony of the Chinese exhibition in Mexico City in September 2000, and the new Mexican President Fox attended the opening ceremony of the Maya Culture exhibition in Beijing-based China Centennial Altar in June 2001.
China and Mexico began a student exchange program in 1973, with annual exchanges of some 20 students during the 1970s and 1980s. Most of Chinese students who were sent to Mexico studied Spanish there. In the 1990s, the number of students sent by each country to the other on government funds was reduced to some 10 annually. The two countries also exchanged scholars to teach or lecture in universities. A number of Chinese diplomats with embassies to Latin American countries, Spanish teachers in universities, business people engaging in trade with Latin American countries and researchers on Latin American countries studied in Mexico.
(The author is a researcher with the Latin American Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Science)
(china.org.cn February 19, 2002)