China-CELAC FORUM: Latin American and Caribbean states invited to join Belt and Road initiative
A new road map for China-Latin American and Caribbean relations was drawn Monday in Chile. The second ministerial meeting of the CELAC-China Forum brought together foreign ministers from the region to discuss increasing trade, investment and cooperation with China. Joel Richards has this report from Santiago.
Chile was the first Latin American country to establish diplomatic ties with China in 1970. Decades on, it is here where a new phase in the relationship was agreed.
At the CELAC-China Forum, talks resulted in three declarations. There was agreement over the Forum's commitment to multilateralism and also the road map on cooperation until 2021. So too, a statement on Latin America and the Caribbean's role in China's Belt and Road Initiative.
WANG YI CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER "We think this meeting has been a great success. It marks a new beginning, it is a handshake between Latin America and the Caribbean, and China, across the Pacific Ocean."
JOEL RICHARDS SANTIAGO One of the key words used by ministers at this Forum has been "innovation". Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi talked of increasing connectivity to create a market of two billion people, and helping create long term development in this region.
This meeting attests to China's growing prominence in this region.
HERALDO MUNOZ CHILEAN FOREIGN MINISTER "China has said something which is very important which is that it wants to be Latin America and the Caribbean's most trusted partner, and that is something that we value greatly."
While China and this region build closer ties, in some countries such as Chile, the pattern of Chinese investment is changing, says the director of the government agency Invest Chile. Chinese companies, he says, are not limiting themselves to large-scale infrastructure projects.
CARLOS ALVAREZ DIRECTOR, INVEST CHILE "Chinese companies are in some degree entering in new areas and diversifying their interest in the Chilean economy."
Energy, fruit and wine are areas attracting Chinese investment in Chile. On this official visit, the Chinese Foreign Minister met with both President Michelle Bachelet, as well her successor, president-elect Sebastian Pira, cementing the ties of today, as well as tomorrow. Joel Richards, CGTN, Santiago.