Chilean president sees promising prospects for relations with China
Updated: 2015-05-24 14:28
SANTIAGO - Chile and China have enjoyed a positive and fruitful relationship and bilateral ties will develop well in the future, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has said.
During a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua prior to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's upcoming visit to the South American nation, Bachelet said she has "a very good estimation of the ties between Chile and China."
The president, who has approved a free trade agreement that offers China leading trade partner status, said the two countries will sign a series of accords during Li's visit, including a Joint Plan of Action.
"I think we are in very good standing to continue making progress in various economic and trade fields," she said, noting that Chile is also currently serving as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, which has led to "very fluid cooperation between the two delegations."
Parallel to this political cooperation, the central banks of Chile and China are making headway in currency swaps that will allow the internationalization of the Chinese currency renminbi, she said.
In addition, Li's visit will provide the two governments with an opportunity to discuss the participation of Chinese companies in Chilean infrastructure projects such as railways, ports, hydropower and telecommunications, Bachelet said, adding that Chile, in turn, is willing to share its experience in areas such as urbanization.
Chile, she said, welcomes China's initiative to analyze the feasibility of a free trade agreement among members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which would benefit large, medium and small economies.
"The free trade agreement is an outcome, a product of the forum's work, but (the forum itself) should be maintained," Bachelet said.
Another initiative of China, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), is an extremely important development as an alternative to traditional global lending institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, the president said.
On the imminent opening of a branch of the China Construction Bank in Chile, she said both regions will benefit from business beyond Chile's borders.
"Chile is classified as a ... gateway country in the sense that we always seek to serve as a constructive bridge with our neighbors," Bachelet said, highlighting her country's membership in the Pacific Alliance, a regional trade bloc founded in 2012 by Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru.
Thus, she said, the Chinese bank's new location in Chile "doesn't just open a significant space for investment and bilateral trade."
"It also opens a collection of other spaces in which Chile participates and I find China can also reach," she said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has spoken out on the need to build a community of nations that share a common vision of humanity's destiny and development, Bachelet said, adding that it is "a very positive, very important" message that resonates with her and her government.
She said Chile and China have maintained friendly ties of cooperation over the past 45 years.
"We want to continue along this same path, strengthening and expanding our ties, our exchange, our knowledge of each other even," Bachelet said.
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