Today in Beijing, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and China held a formal meeting to further the strengthening of relations. This is the first meeting of the many proposed by China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in the hope of developing long term cooperation.
Those present in the conference were foreign minister Yang Jiechi from China and a trio of representatives of CELAC: Chilean foreign minister Alfredo Moreno, Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro from Venezuela, and foreign vice minister of Cuba, Rogelio Sierra.
“We believe this regional organisation is very important,” said Yang.
Moreno agreed by stating that he recognised the role of China in the world, saying that its economic and commercial influence has helped millions of people through the economic crisis.
Maduro insisted that the creation of this kind of multipolar world was important, as “[it’s] the only thing that will guarantee balance, world peace and real development for the people”.
This morning’s meeting came after Prime Minister Wen’s proposal for a cooperation forum between China, Latin America and the Caribbean. In a June speech at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL, after its Spanish name) in Santiago, Wen said that China would like to establish a regular series of meetings between its foreign minister and representatives of CELAC, usually the foreign ministers of the nations in charge of the group’s rotating leadership.
These meetings come after results of trade between China and Latin America in 2011, when total trade of US$241bn was recorded between the regions. China is now Latin America’s third biggest trading partner after the United States and the European Union.
Wen also proposed that the two should increase trade to US$400bn within the next five years. He also asked for the creation of a cooperative fund of US$5bn to spur development of the manufacturing industry and a US$10bn credit line for infrastructure cooperation.
A book written by Latin American academics in response to these proposals is set to be published later this year.