Xi's trip further brightens prospects of China-LatAm co-op

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Chinese President Xi Jinping left Cuba for home on Thursday morning Beijing time after wrapping up a fruitful four-nation visit to Latin America.

During the trip, his second to the region since taking office in March 2013, Xi paid state visits to Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba, and attended the sixth summit of the emerging-market bloc of BRICS, which groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, and a conference with Latin American and Caribbean leaders.

Xi also participated in an unprecedented meeting between BRICS and Latin American leaders, which expanded BRICS' influence in the region, consolidated the bond between them and set a paradigm for South-South cooperation.

The nearly two-week tour has not only demonstrated that Latin America is an integral part of China's overall foreign policy, but once again proved Beijing's commitment to promoting South-South cooperation and cultivating a more equitable and reasonable world order that better accommodates the needs and interests of developing countries.

More solid BRICS partnership

"What has happened has proved that when BRICS countries, which account for 42.6 percent of the world population, enjoy economic growth and social stability and work together for common development, it conforms with the call of the times for peace, development and win-win cooperation and will thus facilitate a more balanced world economy, more effective global governance and more democratic international relations," Xi said in a written interview with Latin American media outlets ahead of his visit.

Speaking at last week's BRICS summit in the Brazilian port city of Fortaleza, Xi summed up BRICS countries' cooperation experiences, and urged member states to carry forward the spirit of openness and inclusiveness and forge a more solid partnership.

He proposed that the BRICS countries push forward sustainable economic growth, build a favorable external environment for development, strengthen coordination and shoulder more responsibility in stabilizing the global economy and safeguarding world peace.

Xi's proposal was echoed by his counterparts of other BRICS nations. Following the summit, the bloc announced plans to establish a development bank and a contingent reserve arrangement.

During bilateral meetings with leaders of other BRICS nations, Xi said that China is "true in word and resolute in deed" on China-Russia cooperation; that China and India are "long-lasting strategic and cooperative partners, rather than rivals;" and that China will boost cooperation with South Africa.

All-round cooperation between China, Latin America

"Bosom friends make distance disappear." Xi quoted this line from an ancient Chinese poem to describe the relations between China and Latin America and the Caribbean. In fact, what China has brought to the region is far more than beautiful words.

In a keynote speech to the China-Latin America summit, Xi proposed to design the China-Latin America relations from the aspects of strategic cooperation, economic diplomacy and people-to-people exchanges.

Xi and leaders from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States jointly announced the decision to establish a cooperation forum and to hold its first ministerial meeting in Beijing at an early date.

The founding of such a forum shows the China-Latin America relationship has been elevated from the level of inter-state relations to comprehensive cooperation. It also sends out a strong signal of their commitment to strengthening unity and coordination and promoting South-South cooperation.

"China stands ready to work with Latin America and the Caribbean in the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, APEC, G20, G77 and other international organizations and multilateral mechanisms to safeguard the common interests of developing countries, through better coordination and cooperation on global and hot-spot issues such as global governance, sustainable development, climate change and cyber security," Xi said.

On practical cooperation, Xi put forward a "1+3+6" framework to realize the goal of boosting two-way trade to 500 billion U.S. dollars in 10 years.

One means one plan, Xi said, referring to the Chinese-Latin American and Caribbean Cooperation Plan (2015-2019), with the aim of achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development.

He suggested that "three engines" -- trade, investment and financial cooperation -- should propel the practical cooperation between China and Latin America to reach comprehensive development.

Cooperation between China and Latin American and Caribbean nations should focus on six areas: energy and resources, infrastructure building, agriculture, manufacturing, scientific and technological innovation, and information technologies, Xi said.

According to the president, China will launch the 10-billion-dollar Special Loans for Chinese-Latin American and Caribbean Infrastructure and, on this basis, increase the credit line to 20 billion dollars. China also pledged to provide 10 billion dollars in preferential loans for Latin American and Caribbean countries.

The Latin American and Caribbean leaders attending the summit welcomed Xi's proposal, saying the region views China as an important cooperation partner and regards China's development as a significant opportunity.

In fact, economic and trade cooperation has become an important pillar of China-Latin American relations.

In the beginning of this century, bilateral trade focused on raw materials, primary goods and manufactured goods. About 20 percent of China's imports of crude oil and 60 percent of imports of soybeans came from Latin America.

In recent years, China began to diversify its investment in Latin America, seeking mergers or cooperation with local enterprises in areas ranging from natural resources to infrastructure and finance.

Bilateral trade has increased more than 20 times, from 12.6 billion dollars in 2000 to 261.6 billion dollars in 2013.

Stronger ties with Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Cuba

During a meeting between Xi and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, the two leaders summarized the successful experiences in their countries' 40-year-old diplomatic relationship and pledged to further consolidate bilateral cooperation.

Stressing that China and Brazil have become a "community of shared destiny," Xi suggested the two countries intensify high-level exchanges as well as interaction at different levels and in various fields, actively communicate on governance experiences and coordinate macro-economic policies.

Xi said China and Brazil should improve economic and trade cooperation, increase bilateral trade, and enhance cooperation in such areas as electricity, agriculture, mining and oil exploitation, high-speed railway construction, finance, science and technology, innovation, Internet and people-to-people exchanges.

The two countries also pledged to join hands in building a transcontinental railway that runs from the Peruvian Pacific coast to the Brazilian Atlantic coast.

In Buenos Aires, Xi and his Argentine counterpart, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, agreed to upgrade bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Noting that China and Argentina are both emerging-market economies at an important phase of development, Xi said they should stick to the in-the-same-boat spirit, learn from each other's governance experiences and deepen cooperation to tackle challenges and achieve common development.

The two sides should promote stable and balanced growth of bilateral trade, boost cooperation in such fields as gas, mining industry, agriculture, nuclear power, infrastructure construction and finance, Xi said.

In Caracas, Xi and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro also agreed to upgrade their countries' relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Xi put forward a four-point proposal to lift China-Venezuela relations to a partnership that features strategic mutual trust, comprehensive cooperation, mutual benefits and win-win results, as well as common development.

During Xi's visit, the two sides signed 16 agreements covering such areas as energy and mining, finance, infrastructure construction, agriculture and high technology.

Before Xi visited Cuba, the last leg of his four-nation Latin American tour, he said the China-Cuba relationship "has stood the test of constant changes in the international landscape and set an example of unity and cooperation between developing countries."

During their meeting Tuesday, Xi and Cuban leader Raul Castro pledged that the two countries will be long-term, staunch friends and partners for reciprocal cooperation.

Xi proposed that China and Cuba make good use of the existing mechanisms like the inter-governmental economic and trade mixed committee and follow the guidance of the bilateral mid-term economic cooperation plan to boost trade and explore potential in health care and other service trade.

The two sides pledged to expand cooperation in key areas such as agriculture, infrastructure construction, energy, mining, tourism and high technology.

"The Chinese side is fully confident in the future development of its relations with Cuba. China is willing to be a good friend, comrade and brother of Cuba forever and join hands with Cuba to constantly elevate bilateral ties to new heights," Xi said. 

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