BUENOS AIRES — Bilateral relations between China and the Latin America region have never been better, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Dec 15.
“Ties between China and Latin America and the Caribbean are at a peak,” said Yin Hengmin, the Chinese government’s special envoy for Latin American affairs, in an interview with Xinhua after delivering a speech on the state of bilateral ties to the Argentine Council for International Relations (CARI), a leading independent think-tank.
“China wants to develop them even more in the near future,” added Yin, the diplomatic veteran who had been the former ambassador to Argentina, Peru and Mexico.
CARI’s vice president and a career diplomat, Antonio Estrany y Gendre, agreed the biregional ties, marked by the “search for new projects”, are at a “good moment.”
“The presence of ambassador Yin is extremely special. He knows Argentina, having been here for four years as ambassador. He is a very important official, as he represents the Chinese government in Latin America. It is a crucial moment, a very special moment, in which international relations are being renewed and readjusted,” Estrany told Xinhua.
The Argentine diplomat noted the Chinese envoy further reinforced his country’s commitment to the region.
“For Argentina, that is very important, given that it needs investment, and China’s presence in investment matters can be very weighty,” said Estrany.
Beijing has also consolidated its ranking as Argentina’s second biggest trade partner, with a 13 percent increase in imports from the South American country, driven by a more diversified range of goods and a more balanced trade structure.
As a token of further commitment, China presented its second Policy Paper on Latin America and the Caribbean in November, eight years after the initiation of the first one in 2008. The new policy paper explains new ideas, proposals and initiatives in China’s policy in the region, and makes concrete pledges toward promoting a joint development.
The cooperation between China and Latin America has reaped fruitful achievements. In 2015, the trade volume between the two reached $236.5 billion, over 20 times greater than a decade ago, according to Chinese government figures.
In 2016, biregional ties made further progress and explored new areas, thanks to the Year of China-Latin America Cultural Exchange and China-Latin American cooperation forums at national levels.
China has also signed free-trade agreements with several regional countries, including Chile, Peru and Costa Rica.
Currently, China is the region’s second largest trade partner and third largest source of investment, while Latin America is the second largest destination for Chinese overseas investment.