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First China-CELAC Forum concludes with 5-year coop. plan and joint declaration

The first forum between China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, also known as CELAC ended on Jan 9 with a 5-year cooperation plan and a joint declaration.

Premier Li Keqiang met with CELAC delegates in the Great Hall of the People on Jan 9, hailing the forum as a new platform to advance ties between China and CELAC member states.

“The relationship between China and Latin American and Caribbean countries has been improved to a new level, and it has laid the foundation for further sustainable development,” Li said.

This first forum between China and CELAC focused on boosting cooperation in a wide range of fields from trade and investment to culture and education.

At a joint news conference with his Costa Rican counterpart Manuel Gonzalez on Jan 9, Foreign Minister Wang Yi discussed the nature of that cooperation.

“Through the meeting, we have aired a strong voice together. China will practice its ‘major country diplomacy’ and promote the establishment of common destiny with Latin American countries. It will play an important role in promoting cooperation among developing countries, consolidating relations between China and developing countries, and promoting the establishment of new international relations, featuring cooperation and a win-win situation,” Wang said.

And Costa Rica’s foreign minister offered his perspective on stronger cooperation.

“The cooperation between CELAC and China is not exclusive and there is no reason why it (China) couldn’t maintain harmonious ties with other countries. We have shared interests with China in many fields and we are both developing countries, and we can strengthen our cooperation within a south-south (cooperation) framework,” said Manuel Gonzalez, foreign minister of Costa Rica.

China is now Latin America’s second largest trading partner and the region’s third biggest source of investment. And experts say given the current trends, the two sides’ economic future will only be increasingly intertwined in the future.