Minister of Foreign Affairs
As a Chinese saying puts it, once a commitment of gathering is made, friends will come for it despite a distance of several thousand miles. As the new year begins, foreign ministers and representatives from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) countries are coming to Beijing to attend the inaugural Ministerial Meeting of the China-CELAC Forum scheduled for 8-9 January, an important event in the relations between China and Latin America and the Caribbean.
To many Chinese, Latin America and the Caribbean is a distant fascinating region. Since becoming foreign minister, I have visited the region four times, either with Chinese leaders or on my own. During each time, I have seen the benefits our cooperation has brought to our peoples and keenly felt the desire of Latin American and Caribbean countries to grow relations with China.
To strengthen solidarity and cooperation with Latin American and Caribbean countries as well as other developing countries is a pillar of China’s diplomacy. Since the turn of the new century, China and Latin American and Caribbean countries have achieved leapfrog growth in our relations by pursuing common development and intensifying political, economic, cultural and people-to-people exchanges. Today, China is the second largest trading partner of and the third largest investor in Latin America and the Caribbean. Mutually beneficial cooperation in resources and energy development, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, manufacturing, high technology and other sectors has come a long way. China-Latin America and the Caribbean relations, which feature extensive common interests and provide development opportunity for both sides, have been strengthened and are well-positioned to achieve even stronger growth.
Rapid global economic integration has boosted cross-regional cooperation. What both China and Latin American and Caribbean countries should do now is to fully tap our respective strengths and elevate our relations to a higher level. To develop a new platform for pursuing collective cooperation is a strategic choice made by both sides in keeping with the trend of our times.
Since 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping has for two years visited Latin American and Caribbean countries and met with leaders from the region many times on international and multilateral occasions. The two sides have had in-depth exchange of views and reached important agreement on advancing collective cooperation between China and Latin America and the Caribbean.
In January 2014, the Special Declaration on the Establishment of the China-CELAC Forum was adopted by CELAC at its summit in Cuba. It demonstrates the shared desire of the Latin American and Caribbean countries to boost cooperation with China, and lays a good foundation for establishing the China-CELAC Forum.
In July 2014, the leaders of China and Latin American and Caribbean countries had a successful landmark meeting in Brazil. During the meeting, President Xi Jinping called for building a new relationship between China and Latin America and the Caribbean with five salient features, namely, sincerity and mutual trust in the political field, win-win cooperation on the economic front, mutual learning in culture, close coordination in international affairs, as well as mutual reinforcement between China’s cooperation with the region as a whole and its bilateral relations with individual countries in the region. This initiative was echoed by the Latin American and Caribbean countries. The two sides announced the establishment of a comprehensive and cooperative partnership of equality, mutual benefit and common development, and decided to launch the China-CELAC Forum and hold its inaugural Ministerial Meeting at an early date. This has set the course for growing both bilateral China-Latin America and the Caribbean relations and boosting collective cooperation between the two sides.
The upcoming inaugural Ministerial Meeting of the China-CELAC Forum will turn the vision of China-Latin America and the Caribbean cooperation into reality. A good beginning is half way to success. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues of the CELAC member states to conduct, in the spirit of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit, win-win cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, in-depth discussions on important issues concerning China-Latin America and the Caribbean cooperation such as its guiding principles, priority areas and the institutional arrangement of the Forum. We are committed to making the meeting a success so that a good start will be made for the China-CELAC Forum and for sustaining collective cooperation between the two sides.
We in China are now working to advance socialism with distinctive Chinese features and deepen all-round reform and opening-up, with the goal of realizing the Chinese dream of great national renewal. The people of Latin America and the Caribbean, who are in quest for a path of development suited to their own national conditions, are pursuing the Latin American dream of unity, coordination, development and reinvigoration. As there is much in common between the Chinese dream and the Latin American dream, it is now the right time for us to join hands and realize our shared dreams. China will work hand in hand with Latin American and Caribbean countries to boost the comprehensive and cooperative partnership between China and Latin America and the Caribbean.