Chinese President Xi Jinping began a state visit to Peru on Monday after the conclusion of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in the Peruvian capital of Lima.
Xi will be holding extensive talks with Peruvian leaders, aiming to strengthen their economic relations.
Another stop on the Belt and Road?
In particular, China is looking to bringing its international trade and infrastructure initiative known as the Belt and Road to Latin America.
The Belt and Road initiative is a blueprint for a network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa. It covers about 4.4 billion people with a combined economic output of 21 trillion US dollars.
Latin America has not yet been included in the China-led project, but Xi has stressed that the Belt and Road is an open initiative. China “welcomes all countries along the route and in Asia, as well as our friends and partners around the world to take part in these endeavors,” he said.
One example of China’s efforts to extend this project to Latin America is the plan to construct a 5,300-kilometer railroad from Brazil to Peru. The Trans-Oceanic Railway will pass through the Amazon rainforest and Andes mountain range to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. A feasibility study is due to be completed by the end of this year.
And that is just one of many Chinese investments poised to strengthen China’s role as the region’s second-largest trading partner.
China's exports to Latin America have also grown. According to the International Monetary Fund, the exports jumped from six billion US dollars in 2000 to 130 billion US dollars in 2014.
Xi has pledged to pump 250 billion US dollars into the region over the next decade.
Chinese visitors say “Hola” to Peru
The Belt and Road is about more than trade.
Tourism is a significant industry for China and considered a valuable avenue for Chinese investment in Latin America. Peru is a top tourist destination for Chinese people, who are helping to revitalize local businesses.
Jorge Heine, Chile’s ambassador to China, believes the region should and must actively participate in the Belt and Road initiative. It “and President Xi's visit is of great significance, and will boost two-way cooperation in politics, economy and trade, as well as culture,” Heine said.
(Written by Chuck Tinte, Bi Jianlu and Luo Ye)