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 U.S. dollars 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 U.S. dollars 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.