Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China
Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China

(Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China)

On January 22, the Second Ministerial Meeting of the China-CELAC Forum will be held in Santiago, Chile. As an important practice of the major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics following the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the meeting will set the stage for greater progress in the relations between China and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) countries in the new era. During the upcoming forum, our two sides will sum up what has been achieved and plan for the future to take our comprehensive cooperative partnership to a higher level.

Established in 2014 at the initiative of President Xi Jinping, the China-CELAC Forum is an important milestone of China's distinct foreign policy approach, signifying a new stage of mutually reinforcing progress of bilateral ties and regional cooperation in China-LAC relations. It has extended China's regional cooperation frameworks to cover all developing countries, contributed to a full-fledged structure of China's foreign policy, added another platform for South-South cooperation and provided strong support to building a community with a shared future for China and LAC countries.

Over the past three years, the China-CELAC Forum has made solid steps and delivered tangible results. 17 subforum sessions have been held to promote cooperation in over 10 areas. The dialogue and exchange mechanisms between the two sides have strengthened and expanded. China's financing measures towards LAC countries have been steadily implemented, supporting more than 80 projects concerning people's livelihood in over 20 LAC countries. China has invited over 800 party leaders and 200 young leaders from LAC countries to visit China, and provided nearly 4,000 training opportunities and some 200 opportunities for on-the-job master's program. The "China-LAC Science and Technology Partnership" and the "China-LAC Young Scientists Exchange Program" have been successfully implemented. The "Year of Cultural Exchanges", with its diverse and exciting activities, has allowed people in China and Latin America and the Caribbean to get a taste of each other's splendid culture despite the geographic distance.

As envisioned at the 19th National Congress of the CPC, the major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics for the new era aims to promote the building of a new form of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind. The remarkable progress of China-LAC relations testifies to the commitment of the CPC central leadership with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core to this diplomatic vision.

— We are committed to mutual respect and peaceful development. President Xi visited LAC countries three times and had substantive interactions with LAC leaders on bilateral and multilateral occasions. Such high-level exchanges have fostered our comprehensive cooperative partnership of equality, mutual benefit and common development, ushered in a new, five-dimensional relationship and charted a new blueprint for China and LAC countries to build a community with a shared future. The Chinese government has issued the second Policy Paper on Latin America and the Caribbean, which lays out the vision and pathways for future cooperation. China has become comprehensive strategic partners with seven LAC countries, and established diplomatic relations with Panama in 2017. With growing consensus on important issues such as global governance, China and LAC countries have maintained good coordination in international and multilateral mechanisms and supported each other on matters concerning each other's core interests and major concerns. Several leaders from LAC countries joined the Chinese people in commemorating the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War in China.

— We are committed to win-win results and a principled approach toward shared interests. We endeavored to speed up and upgrade our practical cooperation by prioritizing industrial capacity cooperation that serves the needs of both sides. Geared to the priorities of LAC countries, Chinese companies have been actively involved in major projects to help them tackle development bottlenecks, build a more competitive economy and improve people's livelihood. The quality and structure of China-LAC trade has been elevated. Fine agricultural products from LAC countries became more popular among Chinese consumers. China and Chile have signed the protocol for upgrading the FTA, offering a new example for China-LAC cooperation. Over 2,000 Chinese companies are operating in LAC countries, making the region the second largest destination of outbound Chinese investment. Our financial cooperation is also taking off, as evidenced by the signing of local currency swap agreements between China and many LAC countries and the establishment of RMB clearing banks in Argentina and Chile. Seven LAC countries, including Brazil, have joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

— We are committed to openness and inclusiveness in facilitating inter-civilizational exchanges. China and LAC countries enjoy a long history of inter-civilizational exchanges that has created a special bond of friendship between our peoples. In recent years, cultural interactions have continued to grow. China has opened 36 Confucius Institutes and 11 Confucius Classrooms in 16 LAC countries and the first Chinese Cultural Center in Mexico City. The first China-LAC media leaders summit was successfully held and a Press Center was set up, bringing more stories and greater publicity about China and Latin America to each other's shores. When LAC countries were hit by serious natural disasters, the Chinese people was among the first to extend a helping hand.

— The Chinese dream and the LAC dream, which both put people first, are closely linked. China and LAC countries both belong to the developing world, and pursuing national development and people's happiness is our shared dream. We have drawn on each other's experience in national governance, particularly improving people's lives, narrowing development gaps and enhancing the capacity for managing public policy and services. As good brothers, good partners and good friends, we will work hand in hand to build a China-LAC community with a shared future.

As a Chinese saying goes, "With calm seas and tail winds, it is time to hoist the sails". With China's major-country diplomacy entering a new era and China-LAC relations standing at a new starting point, the Second Ministerial Meeting of the China-CELAC Forum will bring together countries from both sides of the Pacific under a shared vision for development and cooperation.

Five years since President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative for international cooperation in 2013, this inspiring vision is being translated into actions and fruitful outcomes on the ground. This initiative has gained wide recognition from LAC countries and the rest of the world, and become one of the most popular global public goods. As a natural extension of the ancient maritime Silk Road, the LAC region is indispensable to the development of the Belt and Road Initiative. Many countries in the region hope that cooperation under this initiative will boost their own development and take China-LAC relations to a new level. The Argentinian and Chilean presidents and high-level representatives of many other LAC countries attended the inaugural Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in China last May, and many LAC countries have signed industrial cooperation agreements with China. This is a good start for our joint effort to bring the Belt and Road Initiative to this region.

As we jointly advance the Belt and Road Initiative, we hope to synergize our development strategies at a higher level. Let us enhance top-level planning, deepen policy communication, and formulate road maps and action plans for China-LAC cooperation under the Belt and Road. We encourage more LAC countries to sign Belt and Road cooperation agreements with China for greater complementarity and benefit-sharing. We are ready to make good use of bilateral channels, the China-CELAC Forum and dialogue mechanisms at all levels to strengthen exchanges on national governance.

As we jointly advance the Belt and Road Initiative, we hope to promote China-LAC practical cooperation across the board. We should boost infrastructure connectivity to build new pathways for cooperation and development, and enhance trade connectivity to drive economic growth. We should foster open economies and promote trade liberalization and facilitation. In this connection, we welcome LAC countries' participation in the China International Import Expo. We also need to promote financial connectivity to provide solid support for our cooperation and foster positive interactions between the financial sector and the real economy.

As we jointly advance the Belt and Road Initiative, we hope to consolidate the popular foundation for China-LAC cooperation. Heart-to-heart communication makes lasting friendship. To implement the Belt and Road Initiative, we need not just hardware support in terms of connectivity, but more importantly the soft support of people-to-people friendship. All our efforts must aim at delivering real benefits to the people. We need to further enrich people-to-people exchanges, expand interactions in such areas as culture, science, technology, tourism and education, and enhance the mutual understanding and friendship between our peoples. Once our people see the full benefits of China-LAC cooperation, they will better associate themselves with it, develop a sense of participation and become major beneficiaries of Belt and Road cooperation.

As we jointly advance the Belt and Road Initiative, we hope to make China-LAC cooperation a new paradigm for South-South cooperation. The Belt and Road Initiative has created new opportunities and opened new prospects for South-South cooperation in the new era. Following the principles of openness, inclusiveness and mutual benefit, China will work with LAC countries to strengthen coordination and collaboration in regional and international affairs, uphold the common interests of developing countries and shape a more just and equitable global governance system.

China and LAC countries are both developing countries, and we both have our dreams and visions. Across the vast ocean, we look forward to joining hands with our LAC colleagues. It is my belief that with firm determination and persistent efforts, China-LAC cooperation will continue to score new progress in the new era. Let's unite our efforts and build toward a new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation and a community with a shared future for mankind. Together, we will contribute to an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.