SANTIAGO — Premier Li Keqiang’s upcoming visit to Chile, his first official visit to the South American country since assuming premiership in 2013, is expected to provide a golden opportunity for the two countries to enhance mutual trust and practical cooperation.
Li is scheduled to arrive in Chile on May 24, the last leg of his four-country Latin American tour, which has already taken him to Brazil, Colombia and Peru.
During his stay, Li is expected to hold talks with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and witness with her the signing of several cooperative documents between the two governments.
He will also meet Osvaldo Rosales, director of the International Trade and Integration Division of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, and deliver a speech in the UN body.
A joint declaration between the Chinese and Chilean governments is expected to be issued during the visit.
On the eve of Li’s trip, Bachelet told Xinhua in an exclusive interview that she has “a very good estimation of the ties between Chile and China.”
Chile and China have maintained friendly ties of cooperation for 45 years since the establishment of their diplomatic relation, said Bachelet.
“We want to continue along this same path, strengthening and expanding our ties, our exchange, and our knowledge of each other,” said the president.
Chile was the first South American country to establish diplomatic ties and the first in the region to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with China, while China ranks as Chile’s first trade partner and largest buyer of copper products.
Thanks to the FTA between them, overall trade volume reached $34.1 billion last year, five times greater than before the signing of the pact in 2005, said China’s Ambassador to Chile Li Baorong.
More bilateral exchanges can also be seen in the field of culture, with 2015 declared the Year of Chinese Culture in Chile. So far this year, six troupes of Chinese artists have traveled to Chile to give performances, the ambassador said.
Li’s visit comes about four months after the first ministerial meeting of the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States in Beijing, where China and Latin American countries agreed to increase their trade to $500 billion by 2025. China also pledged to bring its accumulative investment in the region to $250 billion by then.