Xi's trip opens new horizon for ties with Latin America

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, June 7, 2013
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Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday wrapped up his Latin American tour with a light-hearted visit to Chichen Itza, an archaeological site of the Maya civilization in the Mexican state of Yucatan.

The seven-day trip, which took Xi to Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Mexico, opened a new horizon for relations between China and Latin America.

Unforgettable moments

In a speech given at the Mexican Senate, Xi talked about great opportunities to develop relations between China and Mexico as well as the cultural linkage between the two nations.

He mentioned football, Mexican writer Octavio Paz and the Pyramid of the Sun. Mexican lawmakers gave Xi standing ovations several times.

In Costa Rica, Xi, together with his wife Peng Liyuan, toured a farm, tasted local food and told the hosts that he himself was once a farmer.

In Port of Spain, capital of Trinidad and Tobago, Xi met leaders from eight Caribbean countries, a creative diplomatic arrangement equivalent to a mini-summit between China and the Caribbean.

Carlos Tavares, a Brazilian expert on China and global trade, said Xi's talks with leaders of the Caribbean nations showed that the new Chinese leadership was ready to deepen relations with the region.

Leaders of Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Mexico staged grand welcome ceremonies for Xi and Xi's arrival was on front page of national newspapers.

When Xi set foot on Port of Spain as the first Chinese president to visit Trinidad and Tobago, President Anthony Carmona, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and cabinet members were on hand to greet Xi.

In Costa Rica, Xi received the Key to San Jose, the highest honor awarded to foreigners by the city. Xi was also awarded the key to Mexico City during his trip in Mexico.

Concrete results

During Xi's stay in Trinidad and Tobago, China and the English-speaking Caribbean country inked a host of agreements on economic cooperation and cultural exchanges.

Both sides agreed to boost trade and investment. Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar said her country's embassy in China would be fully operational by the time of her visit to China later this year.

Xi also attended a groundbreaking ceremony for a children's hospital funded by China in the central city of Couva.

In a luncheon with leaders of Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, Xi pledged to scale up assistance to Caribbean nations so as to give impetus to cooperation between China and the region.

China will set up one or two technology centers in the next three years to showcase its agricultural technologies, send 100 doctors to the Caribbean region, train 100 part-time postgraduate students and provide scholarships for 1,000 students from the region.

In Costa Rica, leaders of the two sides agreed to push forward pragmatic cooperation.

China pledged to support Costa Rica in the construction of a special economic zone, while Costa Rica welcomed Chinese investment. The two countries are also mulling cooperation in clean energy.

They agreed to strengthen youth and local-level exchanges and implement projects related to overseas studies and Confucius Institutes.

China will continue to provide personnel training for Costa Rica while the Latin American country will simplify visa procedures for Chinese travellers to facilitate people-to-people exchanges.

In Mexico, Xi and President Enrique Pena Nieto agreed to lift their countries' relations to comprehensive strategic partnership.

After their talks, the two leaders witnessed the signing of a dozen agreements covering bilateral cooperation in energy, mining, infrastructure, trade, investment, education and banking.

China will build a Chinese culture center in Mexico City, the first in Latin America, and Mexico will establish a Mexican culture center in Beijing.

China promised to offer 300 scholarships to Mexican students, while the National Autonomous University of Mexico will establish a center of Mexican studies in Beijing Foreign Studies University.

In addition, the two sides will promote cooperation in such areas as clean and renewable energy, the prevention and control of environmental pollution, biotechnology and nanotechnology.

China and Mexico support the establishment of the China-Latin America cooperation forum and promote the overall cooperation between China and Latin America to a higher level.

Potential to be tapped

China and Latin America have expanded pragmatic cooperation in recent years, delivering tangible benefits to both sides.

With two-way trade reaching 261.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2012, China has become the second largest trading partner of Latin America and the Caribbean, which witnessed the world's fastest growth in exports to China.

By investing nearly 65 billion dollars so far in Latin America and the Caribbean, China has helped create much-needed jobs in the region.

However, both sides are fully aware that there is potential to be tapped. China's development offers great opportunities for Latin America.

As the world's second biggest importer, China will buy goods worth over 1 trillion dollars over the next five years and its overseas investment will exceed half a trillion dollars.

As Xi has mentioned in his speech at the Mexican Senate, China is confident in maintaining steady economic expansion, which would create more business opportunities for the world including Latin America and the Caribbean.

Latin America needs Chinese investment and participation in infrastructure construction. The region's products such as farm produce and energy need the Chinese market.

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