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China forum with Latin America, Caribbean to bolster ties

From Xinhua

BUENOS AIRES, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) — The upcoming second ministerial meeting under the framework of China and the Forum of Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will deepen cooperation and strengthen the complementary relationship between the two sides, a prominent political analyst has said.

Patricio Giusto, a public policy expert and director of the consulting firm Diagnostico Politico (Political Diagnosis) in Buenos Aires, told Xinhua in a recent interview about the meeting scheduled for Jan. 19-22 in Santiago, Chile.

“The forum establishes a mechanism for dialogue, where you have China on one side and the 33 countries on the other. This mechanism is working, that’s the interesting thing,” Giusto said.

According to a spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will attend the meeting of the China-CELAC Forum.

The overriding theme at the upcoming forum is bound to be innovation, a subject that is at the heart of China’s current development plans, Giusto said.

“China, which previously imported innovative technology to be able to produce, today produces cutting-edge technology. And what it is trying to do is offer the world’s different regions access to this new technology, precisely to countries that need it,” the consultant said.

Therefore, what can Latin America bring to the equation?

“We have a surplus of food, that’s the case for almost all of Latin America, but we lack investment in infrastructure and high technology, which China can supply,” said Giusto.

“Further exploring and further deepening this natural complementarity is going to be one of the central points of the forum,” he added.

The China-CELAC forum serves as an ideal venue for examining ways the two sides can help each other, he noted.

The first ministerial meeting, held “on China’s initiative” in Beijing in January 2015, led to the creation of the 2015-2019 cooperation plan, which made possible “multimillion-dollar investments, especially in energy, mining and food cooperation,” according to Giusto.

“The expectation for the gathering in Chile is to accomplish a lot more,” he said.


Trade ties between China and Latin America have evolved notably, yet the potential for cooperation exists “not only in trade” but also “in Chinese investment in the region,” said Giusto.

Cooperation between the two sides has expanded beyond trade in recent years to seeing “great advances” in the realms of politics and culture, and to a lesser degree in tourism, reflecting better developed ties, he said.

Giusto cited cooperation between the Communist Party of China (CPC) and local parties, independent of ideology but with an eagerness for talks.

“There has been an open, comprehensive proposal in which the different parties have begun to establish dialogue with China,” he noticed.

The number of Confucius Institutes in Latin America is on the rise as regional interest grows in learning more about the Chinese culture and language.

“It is very interesting to see how new Confucius centers are being inaugurated and the projects to open more,” said Giusto.

“Tourism has enormous potential. In Argentina, we have only received 30,000 Chinese tourists when there are hundreds of thousands that travel throughout the world and we could be providing them with a more interesting offer,” he said.

“There’s also the matter of financial cooperation … through RMB reserves for central banks in the region,” he added.


Latin America needs to seize the moment and make the most of this evolution in ties with China, according to Giusto.

“The region cannot continue to waste the opportunity China is offering to expand trade, investment, finance, cultural exchange and a whole bunch of other areas that could be explored, without any shadow of doubt,” he said.

At the forum, “we have the possibility to agree on a common position on China to be able to better capitalize on this relationship,” said Giusto.

“From China’s point of view, the forum is also very important, because it is a unique chance for China to sit down with 33 regional countries to better explain its plans and that long-term vision that is often so hard for us Latin Americans,” Giusto continued.

In short, the forum stands to strengthen the complementarity that exists between the two sides, said Giusto.

“I see the forum as the kick start to what the governments of the different countries have to hammer out later. This is an unrivaled opportunity for the region to have as a partner and to exploit that for the benefit of our peoples,” he said.

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