Chinese and Latin American leaders attended the first meeting of the forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Beijing Wednesday. CCTV’s Su Yuting reported this story from Beijing.
In the first of many meetings, President Xi Jinping met his Ecuadorian counterpart Rafael Correa at the Great Hall of the People on Wednesday morning.
China-CELAC forum underwayChinese leaders and their Latin American counterparts attended the first meeting of the forum of China and CELAC in Beijing on Wednesday. CCTV’s Su Yuting reported this story from Beijing.
Taking the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties as an opportunity, both sides showed their willingness to make concrete efforts to further developing strategic partnership.
“China-Ecuador ties are developing to reach a historical new high and make new breakthrough. I met President Correa last July in Brasilia and I am delighted to see enterprises, financial institutions, and other relevant parties have implemented the consensus reached by us,” Xi said.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa also spoke of the progress in bilateral ties, adding that his country is ready to enhance cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, energy, and telecommunication.
Later in the afternoon, Xi met with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro, whose economy is suffering due to the sharp downturn in global crude oil prices. Maduro had already announced his tour to China as a very important visit to seek support and new cash injection to shore up Venezuela’s economy.
China is Venezuela’s largest investor and second largest oil customer. China will continue its financial support for Venezuela and said it would initiate numerous plans to strengthen cooperation in energy, technology, and education.
Also on Wednesday, Xi met with Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie. Xi said the signing of a mutual visa exemption agreement boosted people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. The two leaders also discussed bilateral relations on technical cooperation, maritime issue and air services agreement.
The Bahamas is developing as a hub for Asian airlift, particularly in the Caribbean region. China said it is willing to conclude an air agreement before the opening of luxury resort Baha Mar, set for March 2015. The $3.5 billion project is largely being financed by the Export-Import Bank of China and is being built by a Chinese state-owned company.
China sees strategic importance in working with CELAC
While Latin America has for decades been considered a U.S. interest, in recent years China’s influence has grown enormously. CCTV America’s Michael Voss reported this story from Havana.
China sees strategic importance in working with CELAChile Latin America has for decades been considered a U.S. interest, in recent years China's influence has grown enormously. CCTV America's Michael Voss reported this story from Havana.
Bilateral trade between China and the region has increased from $12 billion in 2000, to almost $290 billion in 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund.
China is now the second largest source of Latin America’s imports after the United States, and the third largest destination of its exports after the U.S. and the European Union.
Now China believes can work with the 33-nation Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) on a range of issues. The regional organization was created just three years ago and includes Cuba, but not the United States or Canada.
Last year’s four-nation Latin American tour by China’s president Xi Jinping showed the strategic importance China now places on the region.
This week’s forum in Beijing will focus on boosting cooperation across a range of issues.
“China is a market, it is a huge market for Latin American products, and it’s a source of investment for Latin America. On the other hand, China is fast developing technology, so there are a number of issues in which Latin America and the Caribbean will benefit from a closer relationship with China,” foreign affairs analyst Carlos Alzugaray said.
China’s meeting with CELAC validates the organization and region as it becomes more autonomous in international relations, Alzugary said.
The European Union is also taking a greater interest in the region and later this year will host its second EU-CELAC summit.