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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 09:53, September 13, 2005
Sino-Mexican cooperation outweighs competition
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Chinese President Hu Jintao is visiting Mexico on invitation September 12. During the visit, President Hu will meet with President Vicente Fox and with Speaker of the Senate and President of the Supreme Court, and will deliver a speech at the Mexican Senate. The two sides will sign a number of cooperation agreements. The present visit, the first one to Mexico paid by President Hu as head of state, will give a strong impetus to the in-depth development of the strategic partnership between the two countries and will open a new phase in Sino-Mexican relations.

Chinese leaders paid three visits to Mexico in nine short months (Chinese Vice-President Zeng Qinghong visited the country in January, and Chairman Jia Qinglin of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in May). This fact shows the unprecedented warm Sino-Mexican relationship. The rapid heating up of bilateral ties is neither the "unrequited love" of China, nor the "one-end heat" of Mexico, but rather it is that the two sides have consonance to each other and have a consensus. President Hu has pointed out long before that China needs "to pay more attention to Sino-Latin American relations proceeding from the strategic height of safeguarding world peace, promoting common development and strengthening South-South cooperation." President Vicente Fox has also stressed: Mexico-China relationship is faced with "unique, strategic, good opportunity".

As China has become a "dazzling star" on the world economic stage in recent years, and especially it has strengthened exploration of the Latin American market, Mexico included, the Mexican people no longer think China is "remote and unreachable", and "insignificant", but rather it is of strategic connotations. It is precisely based on this consensus that during Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Mexico in November 2003, the two sides formally declared the establishment of "strategic partnership", and the endeavor to gain a new drive for global competition in the 21st century.

Sino-Mexican strategic cooperation has a solid historical base and major practical needs. From a historical approach, since China and Mexico established diplomatic relations on February 14, 1972, bilateral ties have been in their "prime of life". Viewed from the objective realities, China-Mexico relationship "has gradually entered the most delightful stages". There are frequent exchanges of top-level visits between the two countries, political mutual trust has been continuously enhanced, exchange and cooperation in various fields have been expanding incessantly; bilateral trade volume has increased by over 140-fold since the establishment of diplomatic ties.

Mexico is China's second largest trading partner and the number one large export market in Latin America; China, on its part, has become one of Mexico's most important trading partners in Asia. Viewed from strategic needs, China is the largest developing country in the Eastern Hemisphere, Mexico is the second largest developing country second only to Brazil in the Western Hemisphere. Mutual political support and requirements from each other in the economic and trading fields are all the more a new driving force that constantly pushing bilateral relations up to new stages.

However, Sino-Mexican relationship is neither so complicated as that between China and the United States, nor is it so relatively simple and steady as that among most developing nations. Owing to the fact that the two countries are far away from each other, and there exist differences in language, habit, custom, concept of value and ideology, especially because their economic structures and developmental levels are close or similar to each other's, both sides have room for cooperation and there exists the situation of competition, which makes it a compound tie that features cooperation amidst competition, but cooperation outweighs competition.

China-Mexico relationship has gone through a way in the accompaniment of frictions and disputes. Mexico was the last to sign the agreement on China's accession to the WTO (World Trade Organization) in 2001, the "China economic threat theory" has been prevalent for sometime within Mexico in recent years. Currently Mexico has conducted a variety of products anti-dumping investigations, levies anti-dumping tax as high as 1105 percent, making it the world's most furious country that imposes anti-dumping on China. In addition, the bilateral ties are still faced with three major "soft ribs to development": Mexico has huge trade deficit with China, both sides are engaged in striking competition in the fields of textiles, shoes and toys and their competition is especially fierce in the US market. How to create a harmonious and sustainable strategic partnership is a vital challenge to China and Mexico. Fortunately, the Mexican government has come to realize that "the two countries are cooperative partners, not competitive rivals", "the development opportunity for bilateral ties outweighs friction" (Fox's remarks).

In order to deepen bilateral strategic partnership, the two countries have set up a "permanent committee between the Chinese and Mexican governments", and have formulated a "20-year plan for the future" for the development of bilateral relations. It is believed that China and Mexico will reduce differences and frictions through dialogs, consultations and exchanges, enhance mutual trust and cooperation, and develop motive force in the course of competition and realize a "win-win" result in the course of cooperation.

The author Wu Hongying is director of the Latin American Research Office of the Institute of Studies on China Modern International Relations. Published on the front page of People's Daily Overseas Edition September 12, this article is translated by People's Daily Online

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