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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion
China cherishes ties with Latin America
    2017-November-27  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Winton Dong

dht060@126.com

THE Latin American nation of Panama’s embassy in Beijing opened on Nov. 16. It was inaugurated by visiting Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela. Diplomatic relations between China and Panama were established in June this year after Panama cut its ties with China’s Taiwan.

President Xi Jinping hosted a grand ceremony at the square in front of the Great Hall of the People to welcome Varela. During Varela’s state visit to China, the two countries also signed 19 cooperation agreements covering areas such as finance, agriculture, trade and tourism.

“The establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Panama on the basis of the one-China principle has fulfilled the dream of generations of people from both sides and will bring long-term benefits for them,” Xi said. He appreciated Varela’s strategic vision, political courage, and responsible attitude and added that China would join hands with Panama to draw a blueprint for bilateral ties in the future.

As a peace-loving country, China cherishes friendship with all Latin American countries, including those who have not yet set up formal diplomatic relationships with China. Latin America is the cradle of ancient civilizations. Central America boasts the Maya and Aztec civilizations and South America is proud of the Inca civilization. Since the end of the 15th century, the whole region of Central and South America had been colonized by Latin language family countries such as Spain and Portugal for more than 300 years until their liberation, thus given the name of Latin America.

Latin America is rich in natural resources. Chile is abundant in copper; Mexico is a main silver producer; Cuban sugarcane has been famous for centuries; and Brazilian coffee is loved by people from all over the world, just to name a few notable Latin American goods. Frankly speaking, China’s economic structure is quite supplementary with that of Latin America. As the biggest developing country, China is in great need of prime materials from Latin America. At the same time, Latin American nations also prefer to use consumer goods from China. Chinese products are of good quality, but cheaper than their Western counterparts.

To create a win-win situation, China has taken arduous efforts in recent years to strengthen its ties with Latin America from both political and economic perspectives.

At present, China’s Taiwan still has “diplomatic ties” with some small countries in Latin America such as Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. An irresistible trend is emerging among Taiwan’s Latin American allies, who now hope to establish formal ties with the Chinese mainland as it is in accordance with their political and economic interests. The mainland is very prudent in dealing with resumption of diplomatic relations with former allies of Taiwan. However, if the Taiwan leader’s attitude towards the 1992 Consensus remains ambiguous and tension between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait escalates, such an outcome is inevitable.

From an economic perspective, China has gradually become one the most important trading partners of Latin America. One thing we should pay special attention to is that Chinese investment in the region is unbalanced. Most of our capital destined for Latin America pours into Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, two of the most famous tax havens in the world, and little money is invested into Central America and less wealthy Caribbean nations.

China’s strengthening ties with Latin America are not always smooth. Despite the fact that some countries such as Cuba and Venezuela are antagonistic towards the United States, the superpower’s influence in its so-called “backyard” is still deep-rooted and far-reaching. In the early 1990s, the Washington Consensus spurred a frenzy of privatization and paved the way for those Latin American nations to transfer to a capitalist system, thus laying a solid foundation for the U.S. to control the region as a whole.

In my point of view, as an EU member, Spain could serve as an important bridge for China to further enhance its ties with Latin American countries. Spain was defeated by the United States in the 1898 war and totally lost its hold on colonization in the region since then. Nevertheless, as the controlling country of Latin America for more than 300 years, Spain is still influential. For example, most of the Latin American nations use Spanish as their mother tongue. Moreover, the Iberia Summit proposed by Spain in 1991 is also well received by Central and South America.

(The author is the editor-in-chief of the Shenzhen Daily with a Ph.D. from the Journalism and Communication School of Wuhan University.)

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