Beijing and S. America make plans for forum

Updated: 2014-07-19 05:00

By ZHANG FAN in Brasilia (China Daily)

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A forum that groups China, Latin American and Caribbean nations will help advance ties between the country and the region, experts said.

The decision to set up such a mechanism came at a meeting between President Xi Jinping and leaders from those nations on Thursday in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia.

Liu Yuqin, a researcher of Latin American studies at the China Foundation for International Studies and former Chinese ambassador to Cuba and Chile, said the forum is a platform for comprehensive cooperation between China and Latin America, and that its establishment is the natural result of years of cooperation.

Liu said the potential for cooperation on infrastructure construction between the two countries is large and both share a strong desire for further cooperation.

Danielly Ramos Becard, a professor at the Institution of International Relations of the University of Brasilia, said the forum reflects China's pursuit of establishing a multilateral dialogue while maintaining a bilateral dialogue with Latin American countries, and added that it is important for China to "have a voice" in the region.

"China will positively engage in the financial support for the countries from the region and have a dynamic dialogue with local countries. The mechanism is positive for China's interests in the region," Becard said.

However, Becard also said China should not act as the United States has toward Latin American countries because the region "does not want to have another hegemony".

"We still have positive vision about China's role in the region. China should continue to convince local countries that it is more of a cooperator than a competitor. The idea of win-win is very important," Becard said.

During the meeting, Xi proposed to build mutual trust in the political arena, a win-win in economic and trade cooperation, learning from each other's cultures, close coordination in global affairs.

"The get-together of Chinese and Latin American leaders to discuss the blueprint for China-Latin American relations is a historical event of global significance," Xi said.

He described the China-Latin American relationship as in its best period in history.

The president also proposed to create a $20 billion fund to finance infrastructure projects in Latin American and the Caribbean.

He also offered to extend a credit line of up to $10 billion to nations of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, also known as CELAC, via the Bank of China.

It was the first collective meeting of China's president and leaders of Latin American and Caribbean countries. Latin American media called the event of "historical significance" as it symbolizes a new phase of China-Latin America cooperation. Granma, a major newspaper in Cuba, also praised the forum for offering a "valuable" platform in establishing a partnership between the two sides of equality, mutual benefit and common development.

CELAC, established in December 2011, is the largest regional political cooperation in the Western Hemisphere and consist of 33 countries except the United States and Canada.

The trade between Latin America, the Caribbean and China has seen a significant increase in recent years, reaching $261.6 billion in 2013. China has become the second-largest trade partner and the third-largest investor for Latin American countries.

Chen Weihua in Washington and Zhao Shengnan in Beijing contributed to this story.