China–Latin America: Much in Common ZHANG MINGDE
positions on many issues. China and the emerging powers in Latin America now consult, coordinate and collaborate well in many formal and informal multilateral
forums like the grouping of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India,
and China) countries, the G20, the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, and the UN Conference on
Environment and Sustainable Development. These pragmatic trade and economic relationships have not only
consolidated political relations; they have brought tangible benefit to the well-being of both peoples.
China has signed free-trade agreements with Chile,
Peru and Costa Rica. It has become one of Latin America’s major trade partners, and the number-one trade
partner of Brazil and Chile. The pattern of trade has
deepened and continues to improve. With the aim of
realizing economic complementarity, it is based on
the principle of mutual benefit and sustainable development for both sides.
China’s demand for energy, agricultural products and
minerals has grown as China’s economy and standard of
living have grown. The
mix of these products
accounts for the largest
share of Latin America’s
exports to China. But
at the same time, Latin
American countries are
also invested in the high-end potential of China’s
and its ever-growing
market demand. These
offer the opportunity
for Latin America and
the Caribbean producers to improve the quality of their economic and trade
cooperation with China by taking advantage of their
rich energy and mineral resources and their relatively
developed agricultural products.
The progress achieved through our cooperation is
obvious. In 2010, the volume of trade between China
and Latin America and the Caribbean reached $183 billion, and China’s nonfinancial investment in the region
reached $11.09 billion.
The diversification of trade with China has served
Latin America well in recent years. A stable and healthy
Chinese economy contributed to Latin America’s—and
much of the world’s—ability to avoid the destabilizing
effects of global financial fluctuation and recession.
Latin America and the Caribbean on
China’s “Strategic Plane”
Chile was the first Latin American country to establish diplomatic relations with China, the first to enter into negotiations for China’s ac- cession to the World Trade Organization (WTO),
and the first to sign a free-trade agreement with China.
Brazil is now on a fast track of developing comprehensive relations with China. Not only is it China’s most
important Latin American partner in terms of investment and trade, Brazil also has engaged in high-tech
cooperation. We are currently jointly developing a satellite, which is the best example to date of South-South
cooperation in aviation and technology.
As a reflection of these growing relations, in November 2008 the Chinese government released its first-ever
strategy paper on its relations with the region. According
to China’s policy paper on Latin America and the Caribbean, China has three political, economic and cultural
objectives in developing the relationship: 1) politically,
play, the role of a responsible power in global development. In a speech commemorating the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party,
President Hu Jintao said that China has sought this
role through a policy of pursuing “reform and opening-up, seeking economic development and improving the
well-being of the people.” Because it believes that this
path is a positive one, China welcomes all countries
to participate in China’s development, and to share
China’s development opportunity. By doing so, China
will share its prosperity with people all over the world.
This year China starts its 12th Five-Year Program. The
program seeks to further implement a strategy of mutual benefit. This includes enhancing the level of our
China has played, and will
continue to play, the role
of a responsible power in
Americas Quarterly WINTER 2012