QUITO — Cooperation between China and countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean is founded on mutual benefit, not European-style neocolonialism, Ecuadorian officials and experts said.
In a recent interview with Xinhua, Marcelo Fernandez, Ecuador’s former deputy minister for foreign affairs, said he believed China’s deepening ties with other developing and emerging countries have more to do with South-South cooperation, than a desire to impose hegemony.
“Neocolonialism has been left behind. I don’t think the cooperation between China and Africa is neocolonialism. It is simply mutually beneficial cooperation,” said Fernandez.
“Obviously, we are talking about cooperation between a stronger, more advanced country and a less developed continent. But this type of cooperation cannot be seen as a threat, because it’s about bilateral cooperation,” he added.
China and the 33 member countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) represent different strengths that complement each other, said Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino.
“Latin America, full of natural resources, (has) steady growth and political stability and China, a country on the path to incredible growth, has financial resources and the development of science, technology and human talents,” said Patino.
In addition, said Patino, China has shown its disposition to establish ties founded on mutual respect.
“It has shown that in the way it cooperates with Latin American countries. It’s not conditional, it’s always (marked) by respect,” Patino added.
Jose Ayala Lasso, Ecuador’s former minister of foreign affairs, said China’s cooperation with other countries must be viewed in the right context.
China has worked in the past two decades to strengthen ties with a number of regions around the world, and those efforts are paying off, said Lasso, adding countries like Ecuador should implement similar policies.
“By strengthening contact with China, Africa, Europe and the United States, Ecuador can similarly become more independent and autonomous in its decision-making ability,” he said.
Marco Navas, a political analyst at the Simon Bolivar Andean University in Quito, believes ties between China and Africa are similar to those it maintains with Latin America and the Caribbean.
According to Navas, these ties are driven by geopolitical changes that lead to the emergence of new players on the global stage.
In January 2015, the first ministerial meeting of the China-CELAC Forum was held in Beijing, producing a 2015-2019 cooperation plan that calls on China to boost investment in the region to $250 billion over the next decade. It also calls for increasing bilateral trade to $500 billion in the same period.
Ecuador, which currently holds the CELAC rotating presidency, sees China as “a brother nation,” Vice-President Jorge Glas said when he visited China in early December.
“Political and economic ties between China and CELAC are at their peak. While we are separated by distance, our ties of friendship bring us together,” Glas said during his visit.
“The 33 countries of CELAC have joined China in seeking a true multilateral order, with respect for our differences and our sovereignty,” he added.
The second China-CELAC Forum will be held in 2018 in the Chilean capital of Santiago.