MILESTONE: Visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao meets with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez on November 17 in San Jose, Costa Rica
November 5, 2008, is a milestone date for the development of China-Latin America relations. On that day, China issued its first policy paper on Latin America and the Caribbean.
No time like the present
It was the right time to release this policy paper. The significance can be reflected in various ways:
The policy paper helps to highlight the importance of President Hu Jintao's recent Latin American tour. Hu traveled to Costa Rica, Cuba and Peru in mid-November. Releasing the paper created momentum for the Chinese president's trip.
The paper also clarifies China's diplomatic goals in the region. China published its first policy paper on the European Union in October 2003, followed by an African policy paper in January 2006. The Latin American policy paper not only makes China's diplomatic goals there more transparent, but also fills a gap in the country's foreign policy.
Issuing the paper will push forward the development of China-Latin America relations. In recent years, relations between China and Latin American countries have developed quickly. As high-level exchanges became more frequent, bilateral trade volume soared and cooperation began in other fields. However, diplomats, entrepreneurs and scholars have different views on how to upgrade China-Latin America ties and what the goals should be. The paper provides answers to these questions. In addition, it sets a course for developing these bilateral relations and clearly states China's policy targets, which are to "promote mutual respect and mutual trust and expand common ground, deepen cooperation and achieve win-win results, and draw on each other's strengths to boost common progress and intensify exchanges." These targets fit the five principles of peaceful coexistence and reflect the principles of South-South cooperation in the era of globalization.
The paper has the following outstanding characteristics:
First, Latin American countries are playing an increasingly important role in regional and international events. There is no doubt that Latin America is a strategic region for China. China's rapid development creates greater demand for Latin America's primary products and raw materials. Development in China is therefore tied to Latin America, which is also a major investment destination for Chinese investors. China advocates building a harmonious world, and Latin American countries have made active contributions to maintaining world peace and promoting common development.
REVVING UP: The photo shows Chinese automobiles at the 25th Sao Paulo International Auto Show on October 31 in Brazil. This was the first time that Chinese auto brands participated in the biggest auto show in Latin America
Second, the paper stresses the bilateral trade and economic relationships. Economic diplomacy has been at the core of international relations since the end of the Cold War. The policy paper concerns cooperation in various fields, such as trade, investment, finance, agriculture, industry, infrastructure construction, resources and energy, customs, quality inspection, tourism, debt reduction and cancellation, and economic and technical assistance.
As an important component of South-South cooperation, the China-Latin America trade and economic relationship must be reciprocal and mutually beneficial. Chinese imports of Latin American products and materials have kept world prices high, bringing Latin America massive foreign exchange income and contributing to the region's rapid economic development.