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Spotlight: China-Chile cooperation enters "fast lane"

(Xinhua)    13:41, November 22, 2016

With substantial progress featuring mutual trust and fruitful win-win cooperation in economy and trade, China-Chile cooperation has entered the "fast lane."

Chinese President Xi Jinping is about to pay a state visit to Chile, the final stop of his week-long three-nation tour of Latin America.

Xi's visit marks another high-level interaction between the two countries, signalling closer ties and cooperation between China and Chile.

In July 2014, Xi met with his Chilean counterpart, Michelle Bachelet, during a meeting with Latin American leaders in Brazil, and the two agreed to further deepen bilateral economic cooperation and political coordination.

In November 2014, Bachelet attended the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders' Meeting in Beijing, where she again met with her Chinese counterpart to discuss the development of bilateral ties.

In May 2015, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang paid an official visit to Chile, and expressed the will to expand bilateral trade, unlock the free-trade dividends, and continue to upgrade the China-Chile free trade areas.

He hoped the two sides would take infrastructure construction as a foothold in strengthening production capacity cooperation, namely industrial and investment cooperation.

Li also called on the two countries to deepen people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

"We have very important political and commercial ties with China," Bachelet said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua prior to Xi's visit.


China and Chile established diplomatic ties on Dec. 15, 1970. Chile was the first country in South America to have established diplomatic ties with China. It was also among the first to have recognized China as a market economy and backed China's entry into the World Trade Organization.

China and Chile signed a free-trade agreement (FTA) in November 2005, which entered into force in October 2006. Chile was the first Latin American country to have signed a bilateral FTA with China.

In 2014, the bilateral trade volume reached 34.15 billion U.S. dollars, almost five-fold the amount after the signing of the agreement. Once being the 25th trade partner of Chile before the FTA was reached, China is now Chile's biggest trade partner, buyer and importer.

In 2015, although the overall trade value declined to 31.9 billion dollars because of the global financial crisis, Chile's exports to China still accounted for more than one-fourth of its total.

The FTA has additionally diversified trade, with an accompanying increase in the number of China-made products entering Chilean markets. Chinese-brand cars account for 15 percent of all cars in circulation.

Chile is China's third largest supplier of bottled wine. China imports 98 percent of its blueberries from Chile, 80 percent of its cherries, and 50 percent of its apples and grapes.

Liu Rutao, the economic and commercial counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Chile, highlighted the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries.

A new level of free trade will introduce e-commerce, trade in services, digital customs, and more scientific inspection and quarantine into the traditional commodity trade, Liu said.

The two countries have been actively seeking out financial cooperation as well. During the meeting with Bachelet in July 2014, Xi stressed the importance of finance, as he called on both countries to form a new cooperation pattern driven by financial cooperation and supported by trade and investment cooperation.

In June 2016, the China Construction Bank (CCB), one of China's largest banking institutions, opened its Santiago branch, which made it the first clearing bank for transactions in Chinese currency Renminbi in South America.

The bank, with a bank capital far bigger than all other foreign banks in Chile, not only helps boost economic and trade exchanges and financial collaboration between China and Chile, but also becomes an economic platform for all of Latin America.

It has "allowed us to diversify the reserves of the Central Bank of Chile, decreasing our dependence on the U.S. dollar," Bachelet said.


Greater bilateral exchanges can also be seen in the field of culture, with 2015 declared the Year of Chinese Culture in Chile and 2016 the China-Latin America and Caribbean Cultural Exchange Year.

Broad exchanges were conducted in various fields including art, literature and film, facilitating activities in different forms containing exhibitions, performances and film panoramas. Many Chinese celebrities, for example, the famous Chinese pianist Lang Lang, were invited to perform in Chile.

Among many other cultural events, there is an exhibition of treasures from China's Forbidden City now on display in the Central Cultural Palace in Chile, following the last exhibition in 2000 of Terracotta Warriors from the tomb of China's First Emperor, Qin Shihuang, who lived thousands years ago.

The 2016 exhibition has so far attracted more than 200,000 visitors in Chile within two months.

Besides, many famous Chinese writers, poets, directors and cantors have visited Chilean universities to introduce Chinese literature and art.

Chile also witnessed a passion for learning Chinese language and culture. Two Confucius Institutes and more than 20 Chinese language teaching schools have been opened in Chile so far.

The Confucius Institute Latin America Regional Center is headquartered in Santiago, where there are over 50 Chinese voluenteer teachers teaching Chinese to more than 5,000 Chilean students.

"In Chile, we have already started Mandarin Chinese studies to facilitate more exchanges ... to let us learn more about each other and have greater experiences," said Bachelet.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Zhang Tianrui, Bianji)

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