China reaffirms commitment to Caribbean, Latin America

BY PETE SANKEY
Senior associate editor
sankeyp@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, October 22, 2017

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BEIJING, China — China has reaffirmed its commitment to Latin America and the Caribbean, and has invited countries of the region to invest in China as well as allow for more Chinese investments in their countries in what Beijing is describing as “the new era”.

According to a foreign ministry document, China will encourage its enterprises to expand and optimise investments in Latin America and the Caribbean on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.

Zhang Run, deputy director general of the Caribbean and Latin America Department of the of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at a press briefing at the ministry last Friday, held up Jamaica's North-South Highway, Brazil's and Ecuador's hydro-power plants, and Peru's copper mine as major projects that China has undertaken in the region.

The Brazil project, he said, is one of the world's biggest power-generating and supply companies in the world, while Jamaica's North-South Highway is the first build, own and operate project undertaken by a Chinese company outside the mainland.

“There are many more examples of projects undertaken in Latin America and the Caribbean that have enhanced the cooperation between that region and China,” said Zhang.

“Latin America and the Caribbean, like China, are developing countries and we will continue [to play a role] to ensure economic development and prosperity,” he added, while praising the region for supporting the One China policy. Panama, which now supports the policy, was “welcomed to the circle of friends”.

Noting that there are 2,000 Chinese enterprises in the Latin American and Caribbean region with investments of US$27.3 billion, Zhang said the region is the second-biggest destination of Chinese overseas investments, only behind the Asian continent.

“[The] Latin America and the Caribbean region is like an extension of China's Silk Road project, and we are ready… to get more deeply involved,” said the foreign ministry official. “There is the people-to-people bond despite the distance. We believe in the equality of all countries — big and small — as we continue to work together for lasting peace.”

He said there are also opportunities for scholarships and training, and announced that China will, in 2018, have training opportunities for 500 journalists from Latin America and the Caribbean, as he stressed the “important” role of the media in cultural exchanges.

At the same time, he announced that the second Forum of China and the Community of Latin America and the Caribbean (China-CELAC Forum) will be held next year in Chile. He said tremendous progress has been made since China hosted the first forum in 2014.

According to the second China Policy Paper on Latin America and the Caribbean, published in November 2016, the forum has provided a new platform for cooperation between the two sides, setting the course for simultaneous and complementary development of bilateral and collective cooperation between China and the region.

“The development of China cannot be possible without the development of other developing countries, including countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Since 2013, the Chinese leadership has set forth a series of major initiatives and measures on strengthening China's relations and cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean in a wide range of areas, which have provided new development goals and new driving forces for the relations,” said the paper.

The publication of the second paper, said China, is a blueprint for the future and provides a comprehensive explanation of the new ideas, proposals and initiatives in China's Latin America and Caribbean policy “for the new era, and promote China's cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean”.

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