Opportunities and challenges in China-Latin America and the Caribbean cooperation in the post-crisis era

16:23, May 16, 2011      

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Remarks by Vice Foreign Minister Li Jinzhang
At the Banquet of the Conference
On Situation in Latin America and the Caribbean

Beijing, 28 April 2011

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening. Let me begin by thanking the Institute of Latin American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences for giving me this opportunity to exchange views with you. This is the seventh Conference on Situation in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). After years of development since its inception, this Conference has grown into an important platform for enhancing mutual understanding between the think tanks, experts and business communities of China and LAC countries. The presence today of many representatives of important institutions and experts and scholars shows that the development of China-LAC relations is attracting more and more attention and China-LAC friendship is gaining more and more popular support.

I wish to take this opportunity to discuss with you the opportunities and challenges in China-LAC cooperation in the post-crisis era. As we can see, the global economy has kept the momentum of recovery, yet the repercussions of the global financial crisis for the international community still linger on and the underlying impacts on the global situation are still emerging. There are many things that we can learn from the crisis, and three things, in particular, merit our special attention. First, in the context of globalization, no country can stay immune from the crisis. A collective response to the global challenges through international cooperation is the only way out. Second, the crisis reflects the severity of the imbalances in the international economic structure and the urgent need to reform the global economic governance system. Third, the performance of the emerging economies in dealing with the crisis shows that the emerging market countries can and should play a bigger role in global economic governance.

This analysis will help us better understand the opportunities and challenges in China-LAC cooperation in the post-crisis era. It is based on such understanding that I believe China-LAC cooperation is faced with far more opportunities than challenges in the post-crisis era.

First, the trend towards multipolarity is becoming more prominent in the evolution of the international pattern in the post-crisis era, which provides a sound international environment for China-LAC cooperation. A defining feature of the international relations in the post-crisis era is the faster rise of emerging market economies and greater balance of international power. As major emerging country and region, China and LAC have become important forces for promoting multipolarity and greater democracy in international relations. We share similar or same propositions on issues such as the reform of the global governance system and the building of a fair and effective global development system, and on many major global issues concerning peace and development of mankind. In the post-crisis era, China and LAC countries are enjoying closer coordination in such areas as the reform of the international financial system and on such global issues as the Doha Round negotiations and climate change. I believe that in the years to come, China-LAC cooperation in international affairs will continue to deepen and gain greater global and strategic importance.

Second, the sound momentum demonstrated by the economic development of China and LAC countries in the post-crisis era has laid a solid foundation for our cooperation. The effective measures taken by China and LAC countries to address the financial crisis have produced good results. Our respective economies have taken the lead in recovery and maintained fast growth. Although the world economy remained sluggish in 2010, the growth rate of China and LAC countries reached 10.3% and 6.1% respectively, lending strong impetus to world economic recovery. Thanks to this strong momentum, we are enjoying robust business cooperation between us. Our two-way trade hit a record high of US$183 billion in 2010, with a year-on-year increase larger than that between China and any other major developing region. China is now the second largest trading partner of LAC region. In 2010, China's direct investment in non-financial sectors in LAC region reached US$11.09 billion, realizing a leapfrog development. While the traditional developed economies are facing difficulties in sustaining economic growth, China and LAC countries are expected to maintain their sound growth momentum and serve as important engines for world economic recovery. This is of crucial importance for us to expand our practical cooperation.

Third, the adjustments of development strategies conducted by China and LAC countries provide enormous space for cooperation in the post-crisis era. China and LAC countries are now speeding up the adjustments of economic development strategies. We in China have formulated the Outline of the Twelfth Five-Year Plan on Economic and Social Development and started to implement it. We will focus on scientific development and the transformation of economic development pattern, and endeavor to boost domestic demand, in consumer demand particular. We will put in place a long-term mechanism to unleash the consumption potential and work to ensure that economic growth will be driven by consumption, investment and export together and by coordinated development of various industries. Many LAC countries have also formulated their medium- and long-term development strategies, which focus on increasing the core competitiveness of the traditional industries, developing strategic emerging industries, improving the economic structure and accelerating the integration of infrastructure. The adjustment of economic strategies will give more space and open up new areas for China-LAC cooperation and raise the quality and level of our mutually beneficial cooperation.

Fourth, China and LAC region are faced with new opportunities to share development models and philosophies. The global financial crisis has exposed the deficiencies and shortcomings of the traditional economic models followed by the West. It has prompted the international community to reflect on development models. The performance of China and LAC countries in the post-crisis era shows that it is not possible to have only one development path in the world and a "one-size-fits-all" development model does not exist. What is more important is that countries should bear in mind their respective national conditions and explore a path that fits their national conditions and contributes to their sustainable development on the basis of learning from development experience of other countries. China's development has drawn the attention of LAC countries, and we have a lot to learn from the development experience of LAC countries. In this post-crisis era, there is broad room for us to engage in dialogue, exchanges and mutual learning on such issues as promoting balanced, coordinated and sustainable economic and social development and exploring a development path that best suits our respective national conditions.

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