Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a joint written interview to the media of Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Mexico ahead of his state visits to the three countries.
The following is the full text of the interview:
Q: What is the significance of your forthcoming visit to Latin America and the Caribbean? What are your expectations for closer relations between China and the Latin American and Caribbean countries?
A: I visited Latin America and the Caribbean region back in 2009 and 2011 in the capacity of China's Vice President. The warm hospitality of the friendly Latin American people and their profound goodwill towards the Chinese people left a deep impression on me.
My upcoming visit will be my first trip to Latin America after becoming the President. The purpose of the visit is to deepen the traditional friendship between China and Latin America and expand their mutually beneficial cooperation. During the visit, I will have in-depth exchanges of views with leaders of Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Mexico on ways to strengthen respective bilateral relations and China-Latin America ties in general and make extensive contacts with people from various communities in these countries. I am confident that the visit will give a strong boost to the China-Latin America comprehensive and cooperative partnership featuring equality, mutual benefit and common development.
As an ancient Chinese poem goes, "A bosom friend afar brings a distant land near." Though geographically far apart, China and Latin America and the Caribbean enjoy a friendship that dates back to antiquity. Several centuries ago, Chinese and Latin American merchants opened what we called the "Maritime Silk Road," forming an important trade route between the eastern and western hemispheres. In the face of complex and shifting international landscapes since the beginning of the 21st century, China and Latin America have upheld the principle of equality and mutual benefit, firmly pursued the goal of common development and worked concertedly for substantial progress in their relations.
Politically, the two sides have rendered each other understanding and support on the major issues bearing on respective core interests and in the course of exploring development paths suited to respective national conditions, resulting in the steady increase of their strategic mutual trust. Economically, the practical cooperation between the two sides has borne rich fruits, delivering tangible benefits to both peoples. With two-way trade reaching $261.2 billion in 2012, China has become the second largest trading partner of Latin America and the Caribbean, which witnessed the world's fastest-rising exports to China. By investing nearly $65 billion in Latin America and the Caribbean in accumulative terms, China has helped create much-needed jobs in the region.
In international affairs, the two sides have stepped up coordination and cooperation, effectively upholding their fundamental interests and the common interests of the developing countries. What is more, we have actively explored ways for all-round cooperation with a view to bringing into fuller play each other's strengths and setting up a better platform for advancing our comprehensive and cooperative partnership.
China and Latin America share the same approach to development. We have found increasingly more common language whether in respective nation-building and governance or in international affairs. Facts have proven, and will continue to show, that the growth of China-Latin America relations is an open and inclusive process featuring win-win cooperation. It not only serves the common interests of the two sides, but also contributes to peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world at large.
Looking ahead, we are ready to work with Latin American and
Caribbean countries to move forward the comprehensive and cooperative partnership between the two sides and bring about still greater benefit to the two peoples. I have full confidence in the prospects of China-Latin America relations.
Q: How do you view the growth of China's relations with Trinidad and Tobago? What types of cooperation can be conducted in the field of energy? What tariff measures will China take to give manufactured goods of Trinidad and Tobago access to the fast-growing markets like BRICS?
A: I will be visiting Trinidad and Tobago shortly. It will be my very first visit to that country and also the very first visit paid by a Chinese President to the English-speaking Caribbean. I have high expectations for the visit.
China and Trinidad and Tobago enjoy a time-honored friendship. More than 200 years ago, the first group of Chinese settlers arrived at the island of Trinidad. They have since lived harmoniously with the local communities and become an integral part of the pluralistic society of Trinidad and Tobago.
The Chinese people will never forget that even before the two countries established diplomatic relations, the people of Trinidad and Tobago cast their solemn vote in favor of restoring the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China in the United Nations.
The exchange of diplomatic recognition in 1974 turned a new page in China-Trinidad and Tobago relations. I am so pleased to see that since then and particularly since the establishment of our friendly and cooperative relationship of mutual-benefit and development in 2005, we have made substantial progress in growing our relations. Trinidad and Tobago has become one of our most important partners in the English-speaking Caribbean. Our two countries have conducted fruitful cooperation in infrastructure, minerals, finance, telecommunications, public health and other areas, which contributed to economic and social development of both countries and the well-being of both peoples.
Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of our diplomatic ties. I hope the two sides will take this opportunity to work concertedly to elevate our friendly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation to a new height.
Trinidad and Tobago is a major oil and gas producer in the Caribbean region. With strong complementarity and tremendous potential, bilateral cooperation in the energy field may very well become a new growth point in China-Trinidad and Tobago partnership. Governments, financial institutions and enterprises from the two countries can go ahead with more exploration of energy cooperation in new forms and on a larger scale.
Given the great distance between the two countries, bilateral trade may be affected by high transportation cost. China has adopted effective tariff measures to facilitate trade with Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean countries. Many products of Trinidad and Tobago that are traditionally competitive are subject either to zero-tariff or to fairly low tariff rates in China. In fact, Trinidad and Tobago export to China in the recent decade has grown by nearly 30 times, reaching $140 million last year. I hope enterprises of the two countries will enhance their cooperation. Trinidad and Tobago companies are welcome to do business in the Chinese market.
Q: How do you view the growth of China's relations with Costa Rica? What are your expectations of bilateral cooperation in the future?
A: President Laura Chinchilla paid a state visit to China in August 2012. We had a very nice meeting. President Chinchilla's willingness to develop relations with China left a deep impression on me.
Although China and Costa Rica established diplomatic ties only six years ago, the two sides have seen rapid and steady development of bilateral ties as well as fruitful cooperation in all fields. Bilateral relations have become a model of cooperation between countries of different size and national conditions.
Costa Rica is the third Latin American country to sign a free trade pact with China. The pact came into effect in August 2011. The national stadium of Costa Rica, which was built with the assistance of China, has become the symbol of friendship between the two peoples. The Confucius Institute at the University of Costa Rica is the first of its kind in Central America, and it has provided a platform for promoting understanding and friendship between the two countries. Facts have proved that bilateral friendly and cooperative relations conform to the fundamental interests of the two countries and their people and that they have strong vitality and huge space for development.
Q: How do you view the development of bilateral relations between China and Mexico?
A: China and Mexico are both newly emerged economies and large developing countries that serve as a strategic partner and major development opportunity for each other. In April, President Enrique Pena Nieto visited China to attend the Annual meeting of the Boao Forum for Asia. We had a very good conversation and reached important consensus on strengthening bilateral relations. In two months, I will pay a state visit to Mexico. The top leaders of the two countries exchanging visits in a short period of time reflects the great importance that both sides attach to China-Mexico relations.
Since China and Mexico established diplomatic relations 41 years ago, especially since the establishment of a strategic partnership in 2003, bilateral relations have seen great development as the deepening of mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields brought about tangible benefits to the people of both countries. China-Mexico relations have adopted increasing significance in strategic and general terms. The two sides have maintained close communication and cooperation on major global issues and pushed the development of international order and system toward a more just and rational direction. The development of China-Mexico relations has played an important role in promoting world peace and stability.
I am looking forward to further exchanges of views with President Pena Nieto on deepening practical cooperation between the two countries during my visit and to pushing bilateral relations to a new stage.