China-CELAC forum promotes links across the Pacific Ocean

China 24

The second China-CELAC ministerial meeting takes place in Chile this weekend. They are discussing how to bring the Belt and Road Initiative across the Pacific Ocean to benefit Latin American and Caribbean countries.

CGTN’s Joel Richards looks at China’s role in the region.

Chile’s port city of Valparaiso is one of Latin America’s gateways to Asia. From there, products are shipped across the Pacific. But at the UNESCO world heritage site, tourists still ride the funicular, built in the early 20th century. Alongside history, there are plans for a new high-speed train connecting Valparaiso with Santiago.

Maria Silva has been a tour guide in Valparaiso for eight years. She’s looking forward to the high-speed train.

“There are a lot of people very excited about the chance to connect those two cities, it’ll be very good stimulating the economy,” Maria says.

Travel time between this port city and the capital Santiago could be cut in half if this high speed train project does move ahead. Local reports indicate the project will cost around 1.5 billion dollars. This is just one of the many infrastructure projects with Chinese involvement under discussion in Latin America.

China is taking a more prominent role in this region. Last year, exports from Latin America and the Caribbean to China rose by 30 percent, according to the Inter-American Development Bank. Officials at this weekend’s China-CELAC ministerial meeting are discussing joint cooperation.

Jorge Heine, Chile’s former ambassador to China, believes the most vital aspect of the forum is to develop regional projects.

“I would like to see not just national responses, but some sort of collective response from the region, saying that it is interested in continuing to partner with China in pushing for Latin American development,” Heine says.

The China-CELAC meeting ends on Monday, when officials plan to release a statement about the road forward for China-Latin America relations.