Join Hands Across the Ocean in a New Era
– Remarks by Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Opening Ceremony of the Second Ministerial Meeting of the China-CELAC Forum
23 January 2018
Your Excellency President Michelle Bachelet,
Colleagues from the Latin American and Caribbean Countries,
Distinguished Guests from the International and Regional Organizations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Chinese President Xi Jinping attaches high importance to this meeting and sends his congratulatory message. Allow me to read it to you.
“As the second ministerial meeting of the China-CELAC Forum opens, I wish to express, on behalf the government and people of China and in my own name, warm congratulations and extend sincere greetings to President Michelle Bachelet and the delegates of the participating countries and international and regional organizations.
When the first ministerial meeting of the Forum was held in Beijing in January 2015, I attended its opening ceremony. I am happy to see that with our joint efforts in the past three years, the China-CELAC Forum has developed into the main channel for the overall cooperation between China and Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries and fruitful progress has been made in wide areas. Today, the two sides are meeting again to review past experience and plan the future, in an effort to elevate China-LAC relations to a higher level.
Our world is undergoing major development, transformation, and adjustment. Countries are increasingly interconnected and interdependent and humankind faces many common challenges. Despite the geographical distance, China and LAC countries are all developing countries, and share the dream of world peace, prosperity and happiness of the people. The Chinese people are ready to join hands with the people of LAC countries to further contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for humankind.
The aim of the Belt and Road Initiative that I put forward four years ago is for China and all interested parties to build a new platform for international cooperation on connectivity and lend fresh impetus to common development. The Initiative has been warmly received by the international community, including many LAC countries. Historically, our ancestors, braving waves of the vast ocean, blazed the trans-Pacific maritime Silk Road between China and LAC countries. Today, we need to draw a new blueprint for our joint effort under the Belt and Road Initiative and open a path of cooperation across the Pacific Ocean that will better connect the richly endowed lands of China and Latin America and usher in a new era of China-LAC relations.
Let us join hands and set sail toward a better future for China-LAC relations and for all humankind!
I wish the meeting a full success!”
That is the end of the message.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In his congratulatory message, President Xi Jinping commended the progress the Forum made in the past three years, and put forward the important proposal of advancing China-LAC relations with Belt and Road cooperation. President Xi’s message speaks to China’s sincerity in deepening its cooperation with LAC countries in pursuing common development.
– Over the past three years, with the institutional pillars of the Forum put in place, we have steered the Forum onto a track of sound growth. The foreign ministers of China and the CELAC Quartet have held two rounds of dialogue. Our national coordinators have met annually. Dialogue and cooperation platforms have been established in over ten areas including political parties, infrastructure, agriculture, business, scientific and technological innovation, youth, think-tanks, legal affairs, the environment, local government cooperation and non-governmental exchanges. Seventeen sub-forum events have been held, involving the direct participation of over 20,000 people. These events provide us the institutional guarantees in implementing our political consensus and cooperation plans.
– Over the past three years, thanks to our meticulous efforts, cooperation under the Forum has yielded tangible outcomes and helped us gain valuable experience. Following the China-CELAC Cooperation Plan 2015-2019 adopted at the first ministerial meeting, we have vigorously advanced our cooperation in 13 key areas including, among others, political and security affairs, trade, investment and finance. Our mutual political trust has deepened. Twenty-two CELAC countries have established diplomatic ties with China and nine have forged either strategic or comprehensive strategic partnerships with China. Our business cooperation has kept expanding and improving. Despite a sluggish world economy, our annual trade volume has stayed above US$200 billion. The stock of China’s non-financial investment in the LAC region has doubled in three years and exceeded US$200 billion. Our financing cooperation has supported over 80 livelihood projects in more than 20 countries.
– Over the past three years, by strengthening people-to-people ties through the Forum, we have consolidated the public support for our relations. Over 1,000 leaders of the political parties from LAC countries have visited China, and 4,000-plus professionals have been to China for training or further education. The China-LAC Science and Technology Partnership and the China-LAC Scientist Exchange Program have been successfully implemented, with 15 scientists from LAC countries going to Chinese research institutes for short-term exchange programs every year. Projects like the China-LAC joint laboratories, demonstration farms and Press Center have come to fruition. The splendid China-LAC Cultural Exchange Year, with its activities across Chinese provinces and cities and in nearly 30 LAC countries, has been the biggest cultural event we jointly hold so far.
The fruitful outcomes we have achieved at the Forum are attributable to our commitment to mutual respect and equality, and to our common pursuit of cooperation and development. Building on the solid foundation we have laid, we need to strive for new progress to take the building of the Forum and our cooperation to a new high, and open up new prospects for China-LAC cooperation. We need to set a new exemplary model for the South-South cooperation, and bring more certainty and positive energy to world peace, stability and prosperity.