Opportunities and challenges face China-Latin America community of common destiny

China Plus Published: 2018-11-26 22:59:05
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Note: The following is an edited translation of a commentary from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs."

Chinese President Xi Jinping will embark on his state visits to Spain, Argentina, Panama and Portugal starting on Tuesday (27th), during which he will attend the G20 summit to be held in Buenos Aires. Against the backdrop of increasing uncertainties around the world, China and Latin American countries face both opportunities and challenges in developing a community of common destiny.

Geographically, China is located far away from Latin America and the Caribbean countries. But they are all emerging economies and developing countries, which are important forces for maintaining world peace and development. The two sides have long been actively exploring development paths of their own and have scored remarkable achievements.

(Front L-R) Chile's Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet pose for the family picture of the Second Ministerial Meeting of the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (China-CELAC) in Santiago, on January 22, 2018. [Photo: AFP/CLAUDIO REYES]

(Front L-R) Chile's Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet pose for the family picture of the Second Ministerial Meeting of the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (China-CELAC) in Santiago, on January 22, 2018. [Photo: AFP/CLAUDIO REYES]

In recent years, Chinese leaders have proposed a series of major initiatives to strengthen China-Latin America relations and cooperation in various fields. They are committed to building a community of common destiny based on political trust, economic and trade cooperation and mutual benefit, cultural exchanges and mutual learning, and close cooperation on international affairs. This has undoubtedly given China-Latin America relations new development goals and momentum. President Xi Jinping has visited Latin America three times before while in office. The China-CELAC Forum has become a main channel for comprehensive cooperation between China and Latin America, leading to fruitful results in various fields. A policy paper issued by the Chinese government two years ago clearly stated that Latin America is "a land of vitality and hope", and "the development of China cannot be possible without the development of other developing countries, including those in Latin America and the Caribbean".

President Xi Jinping's upcoming fourth visit to Latin America will not only inject new vitality into the development of bilateral relations, but also bring three major opportunities for the two sides to strengthen cooperation in global governance.

China and Latin America should take this opportunity to strengthen consultation and cooperation and jointly oppose hegemonism, unilateralism and protectionism, which have undermined the foundations of multilateralism, jeopardized international trade, and posed a threat to world peace and development. China and Latin America's annual bilateral trade volume has reached 250 billion US dollars in recent years, benefiting greatly from the global multilateral trading system. Therefore, both sides should voice their opposition to trade protectionism in multilateral mechanisms such as the World Trade Organization and safeguard free trade with practical moves.

China and Latin America should take pragmatic measures to implement the "Belt and Road" Initiative (BRI). Since President Xi Jinping proposed the initiative five years ago, many Latin American countries have responded positively to it. The Chilean and Argentine presidents, together with nearly 20 Latin American and Caribbean ministerial officials and regional organization leaders, attended the first "Belt and Road" Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing last year. They all expressed their willingness to promote the integration of regional and national development strategies into the BRI, speed up the infrastructure construction in the southern hemisphere, and promote South-South cooperation.

In January this year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the second ministerial meeting of the China-CELAC Forum that the BRI cooperation will be the "golden key" to a bright future for the two sides, as well as a big step toward the China-Latin America community of common destiny. He also noted that the "Belt and Road" is the most important international public program that China provides to the world. For that matter, both China and Latin American countries should adhere to the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration, and take pragmatic measures to facilitate policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and closer people-to-people ties, in a bid to achieve early harvest.

Moreover, China and Latin America should strengthen cooperation in promoting global governance. Global issues are not caused by globalization, but the development of globalization has indeed exacerbated some global problems. The solution is to promote global governance. Countries should work together to abide by the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and strengthen communication and collaboration within international multilateral mechanisms. China and Latin America should jointly safeguard the international order and system centered on the purposes and principles stated in the UN Charter, promote multi-polarization as well as the process of democratization and rule of law in international relations. Both sides should also join hands to ensure enhanced representation and voice of developing countries in decision making processes of international institutions and at the same time promote global governance reform.

What's noteworthy is that when China and Latin America are building a community of common destiny, they both need to properly cope with possible interference from the United States. Washington has long seen Latin America as its "backyard", and would not allow its traditional sphere of influence in Latin America to be challenged. It cannot tolerate the presence of any "centrifugal force" in Latin America. Since the beginning of this year, the United States has not only reiterated the importance of Monroeism, but also regards the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Dominica, El Salvador and Panama as a threat. Not long ago, Washington recalled the ambassadors and charge d'affaires from those three countries to discuss ways in which the United States can "support strong, independent, democratic institutions and economies throughout Central America and the Caribbean". This move indicated that the United States is highly alerted and opposed to China's presence in Latin America.

As a matter of fact, Latin American countries have been maintaining close ties with most countries in the world, and developing relations with China is nothing but natural. China-Latin America relations are based on mutual benefit and win-win partnership. They do not target any third party. China-Latin America economic and trade relations are not only conducive to the development of Latin America, but also beneficial to maintaining stability in the region. A prosperous Latin America is in line with the strategic interests of the United States in the Western Hemisphere. China, the United States and Latin American countries should uphold the spirit of openness and tolerance, allow their respective advantages to manifest, strengthen cooperation in developing the Latin American market, and strive to achieve a "triple-win" in favor of all parties.

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LU Xiankun Professor LU Xiankun is Managing Director of LEDECO Geneva and Associate Partner of IDEAS Centre Geneva. He is Emeritus Professor of China Institute for WTO Studies of the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) and Wuhan University (WHU) of China and visiting professor or senior research fellow of some other universities and think tanks in China and Europe. He also sits in management of some international business associations and companies, including as Senior Vice President of Shenzhen UEB Technology LTD., a leading e-commerce company of China. Previously, Mr. LU was senior official of Chinese Ministry of Commerce and senior diplomat posted in Europe, including in Geneva as Counsellor and Head of Division of the Permanent Mission of China to the WTO and in Brussels as Commercial Secretary of the Permanent Mission of China to the EU. Benjamin Cavender Benjamin Cavender is a Shanghai based consultant with more than 11 years of experience helping companies understand consumer behavior and develop go to market strategies for China. He is a frequent speaker on economic and consumer trends in China and is often featured on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Channel News Asia. Sara Hsu Sara Hsu is an associate professor from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She is a regular commentator on Chinese economy. Xu Qinduo Xu Qinduo is CRI's former chief correspondent to Washington DC, the United States. He works as the producer, host and commentator for TODAY, a flagship talk show on current affairs. Mr. Xu contributes regularly to English-language newspapers including Shenzhen Daily and Global Times as well as Chinese-language radio and TV services. Lin Shaowen A radio person, Mr. Lin Shaowen is strongly interested in international relations and Chinese politics. As China is quite often misunderstood in the rest of the world, he feels the need to better present the true picture of the country, the policies and meanings. So he talks a lot and is often seen debating. Then friends find a critical Lin Shaowen criticizing and criticized. George N. Tzogopoulos Dr George N. Tzogopoulos is an expert in media and politics/international relations as well as Chinese affairs. He is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre International de Européenne (CIFE) and Visiting Lecturer at the European Institute affiliated with it and is teaching international relations at the Department of Law of the Democritus University of Thrace. George is the author of two books: US Foreign Policy in the European Media: Framing the Rise and Fall of Neoconservatism (IB TAURIS) and The Greek Crisis in the Media: Stereotyping in the International Press (Ashgate) as well as the founder of chinaandgreece.com, an institutional partner of CRI Greek. David Morris David Morris is the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Commissioner in China, a former Australian diplomat and senior political adviser. Harvey Dzodin After a distinguished career in the US government and American media Dr. Harvey Dzodin is now a Beijing-based freelance columnist for several media outlets. While living in Beijing, he has published over 200 columns with an emphasis on arts, culture and the Belt & Road initiative. He is also a sought-after speaker and advisor in China and abroad. He currently serves as Nonresident Research Fellow of the think tank Center for China and Globalization and Senior Advisor of Tsinghua University National Image Research Center specializing in city branding. Dr. Dzodin was a political appointee of President Jimmy Carter and served as lawyer to a presidential commission. Upon the nomination of the White House and the US State Department he served at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. He was Director and Vice President of the ABC Television in New York for more than two decades.