Xi promotes cooperation on railway across South America

Updated: 2014-07-17 10:09

By ZHANG YUWEI in New York and WU JIAO in Brasilia (China Daily Latin America)

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Chinese President Xi Jinping suggested in a meeting on Wednesday with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala that China, Peru and Brazil form a working group to promote cooperation on building a railway across the South American continent.

Xi met with Humala in Brazil's capital city of Brasilia during his first South American trip following his participation in the sixth BRICS summit in Brazil. The two agreed to further promote cooperation between the two countries, focusing on projects including infrastructure.

The Chinese president proposed that a trilateral work group be established to guide their cooperation in all related aspects, including the planning, design, construction and operation of the transcontinental railway.

Experts say collaboration among Peru, Brazil and China on the railway project — which would run from the Peruvian Pacific coast to the Brazilian Atlantic coast — will be a good example of China's positive impact on the Latin American continent.

Jon Taylor, a professor of political science at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, said Chinese expertise in infrastructure development — most notably railroads — is being welcomed across Latin America.

"The possibility of building a railway from Peru to Brazil, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as major road and river connection projects, is quite intriguing and an obvious area for overseas foreign direct investment on the part of China," said Taylor. "China is quickly displacing the region's traditional partners like Europe and the United States."

Xi said China attaches great importance to mutually beneficial cooperation on infrastructure construction with Latin American countries, and stands ready to maintain communications with Peru and Brazil on the railway project.

Ken Goldstein, an economist with the Conference Board, a business research group in New York, said China's contribution — including capital and expertise — to help the Latin American region on infrastructure development will create a "win-win" model for all.

"It's like something similar to what China is doing in Africa, by helping improve the infrastructure of the domestic economies (in Latin America), it increases the potential market for goods and services coming out of China," said Goldstein.

Xingqiang He, visiting scholar at the Center for International Governance Innovation in Canada and an associate professor at the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said more infrastructure investment on a wide range of sectors in Latin American countries means deeper economic cooperation between China and those countries.

"China has been seeking good opportunities for overseas investment in recent years and it has huge foreign reserves while the availability of capital is a huge problem that Latin America countries are facing," said He. "In that case, a win-win result could be expected," he added.