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China, Latin America forge stronger relationship in new era

(People's Daily Online)    11:42, June 24, 2020

China and Latin America have helped each other throughout the years, and together have set an example for South-South cooperation, Zhao Bentang, Director General of the Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, China's Foreign Ministry, told People’s Daily Online in an exclusive review recently.

Zhao Bentang, Director General of the Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, China's Foreign Ministry. (Photo/People's Daily Online)

Noting that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Latin America-China diplomatic relations, Zhao said both sides will join hands to forge a relationship characterized by equality, mutual benefit, innovation, openness and that is people-oriented.

In the early days of the COVID-19 epidemic, when China was hit particularly hard, the governments and people of Latin American countries gave a great deal of help and support to China.

The leaders of many Latin American countries and the heads of regional organizations sent letters to express their condolences and support for China. Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname and Uruguay mobilized their entire countries to provide China with anti-epidemic materials, including 600,000 masks, nearly 1 million pairs of sterilized gloves and more than 60,000 sets of surgical clothing and other medical supplies.

China also shared its anti-epidemic experience and quickly offered aid materials that the Latin American people badly needed to cope with the pandemic.

Under the joint leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping and the leaders of Latin American countries, China held more than 30 video meetings to exchange experience in prevention and control of the pandemic with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Caribbean countries that have diplomatic relations with China, and Andean countries.

At the same time, China provided valuable anti-pandemic materials to 27 countries in Latin America, and assisted the relevant countries in purchasing and transporting medical materials they had bought in China.

China’s solutions, sense of responsibility as a major country, vision of building a global community with a shared future for all, and promotion of cooperation with Latin American countries have been commended by the leaders and people of Latin American countries, Zhao said.

COVID-19 is the common enemy of China and Brazil. The leaders of the two countries have attached great importance to anti-pandemic cooperation since the onset of the disease, Zhao said.

Certain countries, such as the U.S., have done all they can to politicize and mislabel the virus to smear and attack China. This kind of conduct, which has led to the spread of a “political virus” in some countries, is highly immoral, he added.

China-Brazil relations are long-term and strategic. The diplomatic relationship between the two countries has withstood the challenge brought by the international situation and seen healthy and stable development since its establishment 46 years ago.

No stigmatization of China nor any force attempting to sow discord will affect this kind of relationship. China-Brazil relations enjoy bright and broad prospects.

The sudden onslaught of COVID-19 has posed a threat to Latin America’s economy and China-Latin America economic and trade cooperation, and hindered trade and personnel exchanges between China and the region, with several cooperation projects either shut down or delayed.

However, China has full confidence in the economic cooperation between the two sides, Zhao said, adding that the current difficulties are only temporary.

China and Latin America will stick to the basic direction of bilateral future cooperation, as both sides complement each other strongly and enjoy great cooperation potential, treat each other as partners and attach great importance to deepening China-Latin America cooperation.

China has brought the pandemic under control and enjoyed sound economic and social development, and was one of the first countries to resume work and production. This showcases the resilience of the Chinese economy, and brings confidence to Latin America’s cooperation with China, Zhao said.

On the other hand, we need to seize this momentum brought by the pandemic, which has not only driven the development of Internet infrastructure construction, cross-border e-commerce and the healthcare industry, but greatly expanded new forms of business covering non-contact economy, telemedicine and online education.

Cooperation in these areas will become a new engine and key element for bilateral cooperation, Zhao said.

Cuba established diplomatic relations with China in 1960, becoming the first country in Latin America to do so, ushering in a new era in Sino-Latin American relations.

Both China and Cuba are socialist countries and are good friends, comrades and brothers. The two sides are actively studying ways to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations through high-level interaction and the holding of cultural activities, so as to promote a new development of China-Cuba relations at a new historical starting point, Zhao said.

Over the past 60 years, China and Latin America have overcome many difficulties, such as geographical distance and differences in national conditions, setting an example for South-South cooperation.

Zhao Bentang further pointed out that there are three reasons why China-Latin America relations are developing so well: the first is mutual respect and an equal relationship, which is the essential feature of China-Latin America relations; the second is mutual benefit and common development, which is the brightest background to China-Latin America cooperation; and the third is persisting in exchanges and mutual learning, which is a profound byproduct of China-Latin America cooperation.

The United States has recently ramped up its intervention and sanctions against Venezuela and Cuba, which has been condemned by the international community.

Zhao noted that the U.S. exercises hegemony in Latin America and has always slandered and been wary of the development of relations between Latin American and other countries. In particular, the U.S. has openly smeared the cooperation between China and Latin America, including stigmatizing China-Latin America anti-epidemic efforts.

Zhao Bentang stressed that it is right for China to carry out equal and mutually beneficial cooperation with Latin America in order to achieve mutual benefit and win-win results, help Latin America's development, and give Latin America a ladder when it is struggling in the process of development.

The development of China-Latin America relations will not stop because of deliberate obstruction and smearing by some countries, but will instead get better and better, Zhao said. 

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

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