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Join Hands Across the Ocean in a New Era

Remarks by Foreign Minister Wang Yi
At the Opening Ceremony of the Second Ministerial Meeting of the
China-CELAC Forum

23 January 2018

On 22 January 2018, Foreign Minister Wang Yi delivered remarks at the opening ceremony of the second Ministerial Meeting of the China-CELAC Forum in Santiago, Chile. The following is the full text of the remarks.

Your Excellency President Michelle Bachelet,
Colleagues from the Latin American and Caribbean Countries,
Distinguished Guests from the International and Regional Organizations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Chinese President Xi Jinping attaches high importance to this meeting and sends his congratulatory message. Allow me to read it to you.

"As the second ministerial meeting of the China-CELAC Forum opens, I wish to express, on behalf the government and people of China and in my own name, warm congratulations and extend sincere greetings to President Michelle Bachelet and the delegates of the participating countries and international and regional organizations.

When the first ministerial meeting of the Forum was held in Beijing in January 2015, I attended its opening ceremony. I am happy to see that with our joint efforts in the past three years, the China-CELAC Forum has developed into the main channel for the overall cooperation between China and Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries and fruitful progress has been made in wide areas. Today, the two sides are meeting again to review past experience and plan the future, in an effort to elevate China-LAC relations to a higher level.

Our world is undergoing major development, transformation, and adjustment. Countries are increasingly interconnected and interdependent and humankind faces many common challenges. Despite the geographical distance, China and LAC countries are all developing countries, and share the dream of world peace, prosperity and happiness of the people. The Chinese people are ready to join hands with the people of LAC countries to further contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for humankind.

The aim of the Belt and Road Initiative that I put forward four years ago is for China and all interested parties to build a new platform for international cooperation on connectivity and lend fresh impetus to common development. The Initiative has been warmly received by the international community, including many LAC countries. Historically, our ancestors, braving waves of the vast ocean, blazed the trans-Pacific maritime Silk Road between China and LAC countries. Today, we need to draw a new blueprint for our joint effort under the Belt and Road Initiative and open a path of cooperation across the Pacific Ocean that will better connect the richly endowed lands of China and Latin America and usher in a new era of China-LAC relations.

Let us join hands and set sail toward a better future for China-LAC relations and for all humankind!

I wish the meeting a full success!"

That is the end of the message.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In his congratulatory message, President Xi Jinping commended the progress the Forum made in the past three years, and put forward the important proposal of advancing China-LAC relations with Belt and Road cooperation. President Xi's message speaks to China's sincerity in deepening its cooperation with LAC countries in pursuing common development.

-Over the past three years, with the institutional pillars of the Forum put in place, we have steered the Forum onto a track of sound growth. The foreign ministers of China and the CELAC Quartet have held two rounds of dialogue. Our national coordinators have met annually. Dialogue and cooperation platforms have been established in over ten areas including political parties, infrastructure, agriculture, business, scientific and technological innovation, youth, think-tanks, legal affairs, the environment, local government cooperation and non-governmental exchanges. Seventeen sub-forum events have been held, involving the direct participation of over 20,000 people. These events provide us the institutional guarantees in implementing our political consensus and cooperation plans.

-Over the past three years, thanks to our meticulous efforts, cooperation under the Forum has yielded tangible outcomes and helped us gain valuable experience. Following the China-CELAC Cooperation Plan 2015-2019 adopted at the first ministerial meeting, we have vigorously advanced our cooperation in 13 key areas including, among others, political and security affairs, trade, investment and finance. Our mutual political trust has deepened. Twenty-two CELAC countries have established diplomatic ties with China and nine have forged either strategic or comprehensive strategic partnerships with China. Our business cooperation has kept expanding and improving. Despite a sluggish world economy, our annual trade volume has stayed above US$200 billion. The stock of China's non-financial investment in the LAC region has doubled in three years and exceeded US$200 billion. Our financing cooperation has supported over 80 livelihood projects in more than 20 countries.

-Over the past three years, by strengthening people-to-people ties through the Forum, we have consolidated the public support for our relations. Over 1,000 leaders of the political parties from LAC countries have visited China, and 4,000-plus professionals have been to China for training or further education. The China-LAC Science and Technology Partnership and the China-LAC Scientist Exchange Program have been successfully implemented, with 15 scientists from LAC countries going to Chinese research institutes for short-term exchange programs every year. Projects like the China-LAC joint laboratories, demonstration farms and Press Center have come to fruition. The splendid China-LAC Cultural Exchange Year, with its activities across Chinese provinces and cities and in nearly 30 LAC countries, has been the biggest cultural event we jointly hold so far.

The fruitful outcomes we have achieved at the Forum are attributable to our commitment to mutual respect and equality, and to our common pursuit of cooperation and development. Building on the solid foundation we have laid, we need to strive for new progress to take the building of the Forum and our cooperation to a new high, and open up new prospects for China-LAC cooperation. We need to set a new exemplary model for the South-South cooperation, and bring more certainty and positive energy to world peace, stability and prosperity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the end of last year, the Communist Party of China successfully convened its 19th National Congress, and outlined an ambitious blueprint for building China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful by the middle of this century. General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized that, the Communist Party of China strives for both the wellbeing of the Chinese people and progress of the entire humankind. He also declared to the world that China will stay committed to peaceful development and to a win-win strategy of opening up. China stands ready to share its development dividends with all other countries and achieve common prosperity together with fellow developing countries. China has the resolve and confidence to explore a way of building a great country, that is different from the one followed by the traditional powers, and will always stand side by side with the LAC countries and all other developing countries. The mission of China's diplomacy in the new era has been identified, that is to work with all other countries to forge a new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation, and to build a community with a shared future for humankind.

The Chinese people believe that actions speak louder than words. Since President Xi first put forward the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, it has gained wide support from around the world. Last May, senior officials from over 140 countries and representatives of over 80 international organizations attended in Beijing the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. At the forum, we reached a consensus to jointly promote BRI cooperation. To date, China has signed intergovernmental agreements on Belt and Road cooperation with more than 80 countries and organizations. China has made over US$50 billion of outbound investment under the Initiative, which has brought nearly 200,000 jobs to relevant countries. A cooperation platform originating from Eurasia, extending to every continent and linking the oceans, the Belt and Road Initiative has shown broad prospects and enormous potential.

The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China is aimed at providing the world with public goods. It focuses on international economic cooperation and follows the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits; geopolitical contest or a zero-sum game is neither our purpose nor our practice. We encourage all countries, big and small, to discuss the BRI as equals, to draw on each other's comparative advantages, to tap our potential and to secure win-win cooperation outcomes for all our peoples. The Belt and Road is a platform for open, transparent and inclusive cooperation. We welcome all countries that endorse the Silk Road Spirit to join us.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The consensus we will reach on Belt and Road cooperation at this meeting will be reflected in a special declaration. We hope it will gather fresh momentum and open new prospects for the China-LAC comprehensive cooperative partnership. As we see it, China and LAC countries are well placed to take full advantage of the BRI.

First, we enjoy a time-honored friendship. President Xi has repeatedly mentioned the trans-Pacific maritime Silk Road which connected China and LAC countries. Often referred to as the Nao de China, it started in the mid-16th century, with ships setting out from Fujian, stopping over in Manila and sailing all the way across the Pacific to its final destination-Acapulco. This route enabled the exchange of the East Asia's silk, porcelain and spices for Latin America's corn, potato and chili, and facilitated exchanges between our civilizations. The Nao de China, creating a bond between our peoples, has become part of our collective memory.

Second, we have a solid foundation of cooperation. Since the turn of the century, China-LAC relations have made rapid headway, with our cooperation reaching new heights and our converging interests continuing to expand. China has established free trade areas with Chile, Peru and Costa Rica, concluded trade and investment facilitation arrangements and signed industrial cooperation agreements with many LAC countries. The boom of e-commerce and the digital economy in recent years is creating new opportunities for expanding China-LAC economic ties. Our two sides are also engaged in diverse forms of financial cooperation: over US$17 billion has been allocated as part of China's US$35 billion financial package towards LAC countries, and the US$30 billion China-LAC Industrial Cooperation Investment Fund has been launched, together with the creation of a company that will run the fund.

Third, we have a strong need for mutual cooperation. Latin America and the Caribbean is a region of emerging economies. The LAC countries are striving for development, revitalization and people's wellbeing, and have made ambitious development plans with a strategic vision. It falls to us to seek greater complementarity, to sharpen our economic competitiveness, and to move our industries up the value chain. To this end, Belt and Road cooperation will be a "golden key" that unlocks a brighter future for both sides.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I think it would be appropriate to compare China-LAC cooperation to a fruit tree. If we can nourish it with Belt and Road cooperation, it will be more exuberant and bear more fruits, both bilaterally and collectively. Going forward, China stands ready to work with you towards the goal of building a comprehensive cooperative partnership of equality, mutual benefit and common development, which was set by President Xi and the leaders of LAC countries. We hope to deepen the 1+3+6 framework, develop more effective and innovative ways of cooperation, and see to it that it will expand into more areas, improve its structure, gather more momentum and feature higher quality. To this end, China would like to make the following proposals:

First, building a transportation network connecting lands and oceans. As we Chinese often say, prosperity comes with roads and railways. China would like to be your active partner in transportation, infrastructure and energy connectivity projects, support you in building the bi-oceanic railway and the bi-oceanic tunnel, and open more sea routes and direct air links, so as to increase the capacity and density of the transportation networks connecting China and LAC countries. China also stands ready to conclude Belt and Road agreements with more LAC countries, and launch more Belt and Road projects with a view to reaping an "early harvest".

Second, fostering a large market open and beneficial to both sides. China will facilitate trade and investment with LAC countries to develop our combined market of two billion consumers. China will host an international import expo every year to open its market to and share its opportunities with the world. We welcome the participation of LAC countries in the inaugural expo to be held this November, and encourage you to export more niche, high-quality goods to China.

Third, developing competitive home-grown industries. To break developmental bottlenecks, LAC countries need to foster home-grown pillar industries with a competitive edge. China has the equipment, technology, funding and training opportunities you need. Our two sides may speed up industrial cooperation; work to build logistics, power and information passages; leverage the synergy of businesses, the public and the government; broaden the financing channels of funds, credit and insurance, and explore the establishment of a consortium of development financial institutions; and build more industrial parks and special economic zones. Hopefully, all this will contribute to the early establishment of an independent and diversified industrial system in LAC countries.

Fourth, seizing the opportunity of innovation-driven growth. China hopes to enhance coordination between the Belt and Road Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation Action Plan and the development strategies of LAC countries, and build a China-LAC online Silk Road and a digital Silk Road. Our two sides may advance cooperation in the emerging areas such as aerospace and aviation, renewable energy, artificial intelligence, big data, the Internet and bio-medicine. China is ready to help train more researchers from LAC countries through the China-LAC Science and Technology Partnership and the China-LAC Young Scientists Exchange Program. China is working on a big data service platform for ecological and environmental protection and an international coalition for green development, both under the BRI, and welcomes the participation of LAC countries in both initiatives. China also supports small- and medium-sized LAC countries in enhancing their capacity to deal with climate change.

Fifth, carrying out extensive exchanges based on equality and mutual trust. China and LAC countries are all developing countries and emerging economies at a crucial stage of development and revitalization; our countries are exploring development paths suited to our own circumstances. China is ready to share more governance experience with LAC countries, enhance people-to-people ties and exchanges between our political parties, sub-national entities, media organizations, think tanks and youths; and establish more culture centers in each other's countries and more Confucius Institutes in LAC countries to deepen mutual understanding and friendship. In the next three years, we will invite over 600 leaders of political parties from LAC countries to visit China and provide 6,000 government scholarships to LAC countries to strengthen the bonds of friendship between our peoples.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a Chinese poem reads, "True friends value their promises to each other and will travel a thousand miles to be together." Let us make this meeting a new starting point in our relations, seize the opportunity offered by the Belt and Road Initiative, and join hands across the ocean to open a splendid new era of China-LAC relations.

In closing, I wish the second Ministerial Meeting of the China-CELAC Forum a great success!

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