Bei­jing vows to boost Bo­livia in­fra­struc­ture

Mo­rales in China to meet with lead­ers, wit­ness satel­lite launch

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By WU JIAO and ZHANG FAN

Bo­livia said on Thurs­day that it wel­comes more Chi­nese com­pa­nies in the Latin Amer­i­can coun­try, promis­ing a bet­ter in­vest­ment en­vi­ron­ment.

Bo­li­vian Pres­i­dent Evo Mo­rales made the re­marks dur­ing his meet­ing with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping in Bei­jing.

The three-day visit will also see Mo­rales trav­el­ing to South­west China to watch the launch of Bo­livia’s first com­mu­ni­ca­tion satel­lite on Satur­day, which China helped build.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, the two lead­ers pledged to “de­velop well” co­op­er­a­tion projects in the min­eral, high-tech and aero sec­tors, as well as in­fra­struc­ture buildup, ac­cord­ing to a Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry news re­lease.

The two coun­tries have seen joint ef­forts in Bo­livia’s satel­lite and rail­way in­dus­tries, which are cru­cial to im­prov­ing the land­locked coun­try’s telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­fra­struc­ture.

“Your visit will bring new mo­men­tum to our na­tions’ ties,” Xi told Mo­rales.

The two coun­tries also signed eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion agree­ments on Thurs­day in which China will pro­vide fi­nan­cial sup­port to Bo­livia, but the spe­cific fig­ure re­mains un­known.

This is Mo­rales’ third visit to China.

He vis­ited China in 2006, shortly af­ter he won the Bo­li­vian pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. His visit then was re­garded as a sign that the Latin Amer­i­can coun­try was seek­ing a closer re­la­tion­ship with China, es­pe­cially in eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion.

Mo­rales, known for his in­for­mal style, ar­rived on Thurs­day for the meet­ing in an open jacket and shirt and was wel­comed by Xi at a grand cer­e­mony.

Mo­rales said dur­ing the meet­ing that he has learned about China’s rev­o­lu­tion­ary founder, Chair­man Mao Ze­dong, since his childhood and he used to herd sheep with China’s na­tional flag in hand as a boy.

On Satur­day, Mo­rales will be at the Xichang Satel­lite Launch Center in Sichuan prov­ince for the launch of Bo­livia’s first com­mu­ni­ca­tions satel­lite.

The satel­lite, to be op­er­a­tional

Bo­livia is rich in nat­u­ral re­sources, such as nat­u­ral gas and iron. There is a lot of po­ten­tial in China-Bo­livia trade.” XIE WENZE ECON­O­MIST AT THE CHI­NESE ACADEMY OF SO­CIAL SCIENCES

in March, aims to strengthen Bo­livia’s broad­cast com­mu­ni­ca­tions, dis­tance ed­u­ca­tion and telemedicine.

Bo­li­vian me­dia re­ported that the satel­lite will help the na­tion re­duce its $15 mil­lion an­nual bill for rent­ing for­eign satel­lites’ time and ser­vices.

Al­low­ing com­plete na­tional cov­er­age in the coun­try, the satel­lite will also al­low Bo­livia to rent out ser­vices to South Amer­i­can coun­tries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, said Ivan Zam­brana, di­rec­tor of the Bo­li­vian Space Agency.

The pro­gram in­volved an in­vest­ment of $300 mil­lion, in­clud­ing con­struc­tion, launch and or­bit place­ment, set­ting up ground sta­tions in La Paz and Santa Cruz, and train­ing, ac­cord­ing to China Great Wall In­dus­try Corp. Much of that in­vest­ment was loaned by China De­vel­op­ment Bank.

Xie Wenze, an econ­o­mist at the Latin Amer­ica In­sti­tute of the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, said the satel­lite is the high­light of China and Bo­livia’s high-tech co­op­er­a­tion and can greatly im­prove Bo­livia’s so­cioe­co­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

Such co­op­er­a­tion also ben­e­fits China in high-tech ex­ports, es­pe­cially in gain­ing a big­ger share in the world’s satel­lite in­dus­try, he added.

China and Bo­livia’s eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion is grow­ing.

Bi­lat­eral trade vol­ume reached $516 mil­lion in the first eight months of 2013, an in­crease of 18 per­cent com­pared with the same pe­riod last year, ac­cord­ing to Chi­nese cus­toms data.

“Bo­livia is rich in nat­u­ral re­sources, such as nat­u­ral gas and iron. There is a lot of po­ten­tial in China-Bo­livia trade,” Xie said. How­ever, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment is lim­ited by Bo­livia’s un­der­de­vel­oped in­fra­struc­ture, es­pe­cially the trans­porta­tion sys­tem.

“Bo­livia is a land­locked coun­try with poorly de­vel­oped rail­ways. Even though it has the sec­ond-largest nat­u­ral gas re­serve in Latin Amer­ica and huge amounts of iron mines, it is dif­fi­cult for it to reach the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket,” Xie said.

To solve the prob­lem, Bo­livia is try­ing to build more rail­ways.

Ac­cord­ing to the Bo­li­vian gov­ern­ment, China Rail­way Group and China CAMC Engineering Corp just won a bid on a $250 mil­lion rail­way con­struc­tion project.

“The project is to com­plete Bo­livia’s rail­way net­work, which can im­prove its do­mes­tic trans­porta­tion as well as its con­nec­tion with the world. It will also help cre­ate a sta­ble so­cial en­vi­ron­ment for Bo­livia’s econ­omy,” Xie said. Con­tact the writ­ers at wu­jiao@ chi­nadaily.com.cn and zhang­fan1@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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