China and Ecuador agreed on November 17 to lift bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
The decision was announced during Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to Ecuador, the first of its kind since the two countries established diplomatic relations 36 years ago.
In his talks with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, Xi said Ecuador is an important country in Latin America.
Despite a long distance between them, bilateral ties between China and Ecuador have witnessed substantial development in recent years.
The two countries established a strategic partnership in Correa's second official visit to Beijing in 2015, and Ecuador is now a major destination for Chinese investment and financing in Latin America.
In April this year, Ecuador was hit by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake, and China was one of the first countries to supply humanitarian aid immediately after the quake.
Xi noted that since 2015, mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides has seen rapid development in a wide range of areas, with the scale of collaboration continuing to increase.
Bilateral ties have since been greatly enriched and have been picking up momentum towards comprehensive development, he added.
The Chinese president said China-Ecuador relations have now entered a key phase where cooperation between the two countries is of greater importance to both sides.
China will continue to support Ecuador in exploring a development path that suits its own conditions, and will actively take part in Ecuador's post-earthquake reconstruction work, he said.
China is willing to reinforce practical cooperation with the Ecuadorian side in all areas, comprehensively step up the integration of interests of both sides, expand people-to-people exchanges, and open up brighter prospects for the development of bilateral ties, Xi said.
He went on to pledge support for Ecuador's presidency of the Group of 77 next year, saying that China is willing to maintain close cooperation with the G77 in multilateral affairs.
China is also willing to work with Ecuador to boost overall cooperation with Latin America and push for greater development in China-Latin America relations, he added.
Ecuador is the first leg of President Xi's three-nation Latin American tour which will also take him to Peru and Chile. This is his third visit to Latin America since he took the presidency in March 2013.
He will also attend the 24th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting while in Lima, capital of Peru.
(Xinhua News Agency November 17, 2016)