China wants to deepen partnerships with CELAC

Updated: 2014-04-14 05:36

By Zhang Fan in Beijing (China Daily Latin America)

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China is willing to work with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to establish a comprehensive cooperation mechanism between China and the region centered on the China-CELAC ministerial-level forum, Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao said recently in Beijing.

Li said China wants to deepen comprehensive cooperation partnerships with Latin American and Caribbean states through the mechanism and enhance the capability of both sides to address crises so as to advance world peace and stability.

He made the remarks while meeting with a delegation of the Quartet of CELAC, led by Costa Rican Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo.

CELAC, established in December 2011, is the largest regional political cooperation in the Western Hemisphere and comprises 33 countries, but not the United States or Canada.

The Quartet includes the foreign ministers of the current rotating chair of CELAC, Costa Rica, its previous rotating chair, Cuba, and the next rotating chair, Ecuador, as well as representatives from the Caribbean community.

CELAC approved a special statement on the establishment of a China-CELAC forum at its second summit held in January in Cuba, and agreed to hold the first meeting of the forum within 2014.

The approval was welcomed by China and Chinese President Xi Jinping said the special statement showed Latin American and Caribbean countries has common aspirations for deepening Latin America-China cooperation.

Observers regard the willingness on both sides to establish a "comprehensive cooperation mechanism" a result of the rapid development of bilateral ties between China and the regional countries, especially in the commercial field.

Trade volume between China and Latin American and Caribbean countries has increased significantly in recent years and China continued to be the largest trade partner of Brazil in 2013, with bilateral trade surpassing $80 billion.

China, together with the United States and the European Union, are now viewed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean as the three major economies which will influence economic growth in the region.

"The economic development laid the foundation for further partnerships between China and the region and both sides realized it is necessary to make a 'qualitative leap' now," said Sun Hongbo, a researcher on China-Latin American relations at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The "qualitative leap", according to Sun, involves a multitude of cooperation in sectors from science and technology, culture and global governance.

"So it requires larger political willingness from both sides to enhance the current cooperation to a new level. It is an important part of the South-South cooperation with a focus on equality, mutual benefits and sustainable development," Sun said.

Sun said comprehensive cooperation between China and the region will not influence bilateral ties between China and such regional countries as Brazil and Argentina but is a "necessary complement and enhancement" of current bilateral relations.