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Xi praises Ecuadorean partnership as trip starts

By Amy He, WANG QINGYUN | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-18 03:21

China and Ecuador "shall be good partners" and strengthen their cooperation and exchanges across various fields, President Xi Jinping said in a signed article ahead of his state visit to Ecuador.

In the article published in the Ecuadorean newspaper El Telegrafo on Wednesday, Xi said that Ecuador is a top destination for Chinese investment and financing in Latin America.

According to the president, Chinese investment and financing in Ecuador has exceeded $10 billion, supporting several hundred projects, including major infrastructure such as the Coca Codo Sinclair hydropower plant, seven other hydropower plants and a dozen highways.

"Once up and running, these projects will equip Ecuador with a powerful locomotive and engine to propel its development further," he said, expressing appreciation for Ecuador's trust in Chinese companies, equipment and technologies.

Ecuador is the first stop of Xi's visit to three Latin American countries. He was scheduled to arrive at Quito, the capital, on Thursday afternoon local time.

The president said China has become Ecuador's third-largest trading partner, with two-way trade reaching $4.1 billion last year.

China looks forward to having more local specialties and high value-added products from Ecuador to increase variety in the Chinese market, he said.

"China will carry out production capacity cooperation with Ecuador, increase technology transfers, and help Ecuador build greater capacity for independent development," Xi said.

Jason Marczak, director of Latin America Economic Growth Initiative at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank, said Xi's Ecuadorean counterpart, Rafael Correa, is "very much a friend of the Chinese government" and has tried to diversify Ecuador's commercial partners.

The Ecuadorean government "has been very much in favor of bringing in currency, however it could, for economic development in many different ways", Marczak said. "So in many ways, China has unfettered access and opportunities for development, especially in mining in Ecuador."

He Shuangrong, a researcher in Latin American studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China-Ecuador ties are "eye-catching" among China's relations with Latin American countries due to the two countries' close cooperation in infrastructure construction.

She said China's assistance, including humanitarian aid to help Ecuador recover from a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in April, has been vital to the country's economic development at a time when the global economy is facing downward pressure.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, after having donated $2 million in cash, the Chinese government provided another 60 million yuan ($8.7 million) worth of humanitarian aid after the earthquake.

Also, the Chinese-designed and built ECU 911, a nationwide emergency warning and response system, played a vital role in Ecuador's disaster-relief efforts.

Xi praised the system, adding that China, "Ecuador's sincere friend", will take an active part in post-disaster reconstruction.

Milton Reyes, a professor of Asia-Pacific affairs at the Latin American Integration Association, an Uruguay-based trade association, notes the two countries "have shared values in the matter of sovereignty", which allows Ecuador to "make its own decisions".

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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