Belt and Road watershed moment for China-Latin America relations

Initiative ushers in development momentum, kick-starting significant growth opportunities for both sides

By ZHAO RUINAN | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-08-11 10:20
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Visitors learn about Brazilian coffee at a consumer products expo in Haikou, Hainan province, on April 14. YANG GUANYU/XINHUA

Complementary quality

"In Latin America, most of our countries are very complementary with China, and this translates into the relationship that our organization of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States is also having, which has invited China to participate, with most of our countries having signed to join the BRI," he said.

Infrastructure development lies at the heart of the BRI, and China's involvement has been instrumental in transforming Latin America's connectivity landscape.

In Chile, China Railway Construction Corporation Limited, or CRCC, in a historic public-private partnership agreement in 2021, bagged the contract for upgrading and maintaining a 195-kilometer stretch of Route 5 from Chillan to Talca, a city about 255 km south of the capital Santiago.

At the time, this was Chile's largest infrastructure project and the first public-private partnership project awarded to a Chinese company.

The project includes operation and maintenance of the existing highway section, expansion of 30 km of highway, design and construction of a 54-km ring road and building of 13 electronic toll collection systems.

Cherries are a significant export for Chile, with 70 percent to 80 percent of them heading to China. Shipping cherries from Chile to China via sea transport takes over 20 days. Ensuring timely delivery of cherries picked from orchards to refrigeration centers at the port is a crucial concern for growers. That is where the section of Route 5 comes into play.

By September 2022, two main toll stations on the section had been completed and put into operation, and the electronic toll collection system was officially launched. As a result, travel time on the section of Route 5 has been reduced by about 30 minutes, with a 17 percent year-on-year decrease in traffic congestion, the company told China Daily.

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