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China-LAC Overall Cooperation Pushes Ahead on a Great Journey
Zhu Qingqiao
2016/02/05

  China and Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries have a shared dream and common pursuit on the paths of development, enjoying a great potential for deepening cooperation.

  The First Ministerial Meeting (FMM) of the Forum of China and Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (China-CELAC Forum) was held in Beijing in early 2015. The Meeting not only brought China-LAC relations into a new stage with parallel development of bilateral cooperation between China and LAC countries and China-LAC overall collaboration, but also marked the full coverage of the integrated cooperation mechanism between China and other developing countries. Moreover, it proved the important role of Latin America and the Caribbean region in China’s diplomatic pattern.

  Over the past year, with the joint efforts of the two sides, the seedling of China-CELAC Forum has grown healthily, showing strong vitality. China-CELAC cooperation, as one indispensable link of the Five-in-One new pattern of China-LAC relations, offers new dynamism for further advancement of this relationship.

  China and LAC countries have strengthened their political mutual trust. Chinese top Party and State leaders including President Xi Jinping conducted in-depth exchange of views with LAC leaders on various occasions on promoting China-LAC overall cooperation and building a community of common destiny and reached important consensus, offering guidance for the development of China-LAC relationship. LAC countries are very keen to advance relations with China, demonstrated by the visits of top leaders of a number of LAC states to China in the year and China’s establishment of strategic partnership with Costa Rica and Ecuador. China and LAC countries have maintained good coordination on international affairs, and rendered each other support on issues concerning their core interests and major concerns.

  China and LAC countries have developed more smooth channels for dialogue. A new round of dialogue has been held between foreign ministers of China and CELAC Quartet members. The newly established post of the Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Latin American and Caribbean Affairs maintained coordination and communication with the LAC side. The existing sub-forums under the framework of China-CELAC Forum have been hosted successfully, with new ones such as sub-forums on infrastructure, scientific and technological innovation, and political party exchange being added and starting fruitful activities. Other regional organizations and multilateral institutes such as ECLAC and the CAF are also highly interested in the activities and actively participate in China-LAC cooperation.

  China and LAC countries have grown their shared interests. Over the past year, the China-LAC Five-Year Cooperation Plan and China’s US$35 billion package financing arrangement for LAC countries adopted by the FMM of China-CELAC Forum were implemented smoothly. Negotiations on an upgraded China-Chile FTA and the feasibility study on China-Columbia FTA have advanced steadily. The export of a multitude of agricultural products from LAC countries to China has been addressed. RMB settlement banks have been successively established in Chile and Argentina. Transformation of driving forces for bilateral economic and trade cooperation has won initial success, demonstrated by the remarkable growth of China’s investment and newly contracted projects in LAC countries.

  China-LAC friendship has taken roots in the hearts of the people. China provided more scholarships and training opportunities for LAC countries. The “Future Bridge” China-LAC 1000 young leaders training programme is being implemented smoothly, and “China-LAC Science and Technology Partnership” and “China-LAC Young Scientists Exchange Program” have been formally inaugurated. China’s proposal on establishing a China-LAC civilization dialogue mechanism received active response from the LAC side. Colorful events such as Latin America Art Season and Caribbean Music Festival have been held in China. China opened a direct flight with Cuba, filling the airline gap between China and the Caribbean region and effectively enhancing people-to-people exchange and tourism cooperation.

  China has now entered a decisive stage of completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and is working to promote transformation and upgrading of economic and social development under the guidance of an innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development concept. Committed to economic restructuring and industrial upgrading, LAC countries are also in a crucial stage of development. China and LAC countries have a shared dream and common pursuit on the paths of development, enjoying a great potential for deepening cooperation.

  In the future, China and LAC countries should keep to the principle of equality in their cooperation, strengthen dialogue, build up consensus, and continuously consolidate the political foundation for their comprehensive cooperative partnership. We must stick to the goal of mutually beneficial cooperation, go along with the main trend of common development, and promote matching of our development strategies. The two sides need to take flexible approaches in developing cooperation, leveraging both bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms to identify new areas of growth. We need to embody open and inclusive cooperation, seek common ground while shelving differences, learn from and accommodate one another, and enhance our mutual understanding and friendship.

  In the year of 2015, China-CELAC Forum moved ahead on a smooth journey. In the coming year of 2016, China-LAC overall cooperation shall push ahead with greater progress. Facing complex and volatile international landscapes, the two sides should work in concert and bring about further development of China-LAC relations, which will surely make fresh contribution to the development and prosperity of the world.

  (The author is the Director General of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

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