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China vows closer Latin American ties ahead of Hu visit

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Nov 5, 2008
China vowed closer trade, energy and military ties with Latin American and Caribbean countries in a policy paper released on Wednesday ahead of a planned trip to the region by President Hu Jintao.

Although the paper contained few specifics, China pledged to pursue a "comprehensive and cooperative" partnership with a region that has traditionally been viewed as falling under US diplomatic sway.

"The policy paper is to further clarify China's goals towards Latin America and the Caribbean," Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

"It will help the international community and the Chinese people understand China's foreign policy towards the region."

The paper called for an expansion of trade and said China would give "positive consideration" to new free trade agreements with Latin American and Caribbean nations, including in the area of energy and other resources.

"The Chinese side wishes to expand and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with Latin American and Caribbean countries in resources and energy within bilateral cooperation frameworks," it stated.

China has reached out in recent years to resource-rich countries in Africa to sate the voracious energy demands of its growing economy.

It has also recently concluded energy deals with Latin American countries such as Venezuela.

"The two sides will leverage their respective strengths, tap the potential of cooperation, and seek to become each other's partner in economic cooperation and trade for mutual benefit and common development," the paper said.

Foreign Minister Yang told Xinhua there should be strengthened communication and cooperation to cope with the international financial crisis.

"China, Latin America and the Caribbean have common interests in preventing the crisis from spreading to the real economy of both sides as well as to reform the international financial supervision system," he said.

The release of the paper comes as Hu prepares to travel to Cuba, Costa Rica and Peru after attending a November 15 international summit on the global financial crisis in Washington.

China and Taiwan, which split after a civil war in 1949, have for years vied for diplomatic recognition by Latin American countries, with both sides accusing the other of buying friends through "chequebook diplomacy".

The policy paper also promised to "discuss" debt relief for Latin American and Caribbean nations "as China's ability permits."

"The Chinese side will actively carry out military exchanges and defence dialogue and cooperation with Latin American and Caribbean countries," it added.

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A New Summit In Helsinki Part Two
Moscow (UPI) Nov 3, 2008
The "military summit" talks held in Helsinki, Finland, in October between the chiefs of staff of the Russian and U.S. armed forces had far-reaching implications.

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