Envoy to Chile talks relations
Li Baorong, China’s ambassador to Chile, discussed the state of relations between the two nations in response to questions from China Daily.
What do you think of the visit of President Xi Jinping to Chile? How will the relations between the two countries be promoted?
I am very sure that President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Chile will open a new chapter of China-Chile relations and be of great historical significance. The two governments attach great importance to and have high hopes for this visit.
During the visit, Xi and Bachelet will make in-depth exchanges on bilateral relations, pragmatic cooperation in various fields and other issues of common concern.
The two sides will sign agreements involving trade, finance, communications, education, agriculture and other important areas. This will definitely open up more room for bilateral cooperation.
Since you took office, what are the major achievement sin Chile-China relations?
Over the past 46 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Chile, the bilateral relations have been developing smoothly as a result of the joint efforts of the two governments. In recent years, the bilateral relations have become closer and closer, and the bilateral cooperation in various fields has shown a good momentum.
The frequent high-level exchanges between the two countries have deepened political mutual trust.
In July 2014, President Xi Jinping met with President Michelle Bachelet in Brasilia during the China-Latin America and the Caribbean Summit.
In November, President Bachelet went to Beijing to attend the APEC Economic Leaders’ Informal Meeting and made a state visit to China. In May 2015, Premier Li Keqiang was invited to pay an official visit to Chile. At present, the relations between the two countries are in the best period in history in both strategy and comprehensiveness.
What is the main focus of the economic exchanges between Chile and China?
Chile is the first Latin American country to sign a free trade agreement with China, while China is Chile’s largest trading partner, the largest export destination and the largest buyer of copper products. Since the signing of the China-Chile FTA, China-Chile trade has increased fourfold.
China- Chile trade has achieved significant diversification. At present, Chile has become China’s second-largest wine exporter, a major or largest market for Chilean cherries, blueberries, apples, grapes, salmon and other seafood.
More and more Chinese automobiles appear on the streets in Chile and lead the market share here. Since May 2015, the two countries have conducted a joint assessment of the trade negotiations upgrade. It’s very positive for maintaining steady growth of the bilateral trade.
China-Chile mutual investment is growing with investment extending to infrastructure construction, renewable energy, mining, agriculture, communications and other industries. The Chilean government encourages Chinese enterprises to invest in Chile, and for two consecutive years held in China a “Chile Week” investment conference.
Financial cooperation has become a new bright spot of cooperation between the two countries. Both sides have started currency swap, the first RMB clearing bank in Latin America — Chile branch of China Construction Bank — opened in June this year in the capital Santiago.
How about the cultural exchanges between Chile and China?
2015 was Chile’s “Year of Chinese Culture”; this year is the “Sino-Latin American Cultural Exchange Year”. The cultural institutions of both countries have held a series of high-level exchange programs.
The ambassadors for the “China and Latin American Culture Exchange Year” include pianist Lang Lang and musician Tan Dun. Performing groups such as the China Radio National Orchestra and Zhejiang Song and Dance Theater have held nearly 70 performances across Chile.
These performances gave Chilean audiences a taste of multidimensional Chinese culture both modern and traditional. In addition, the local Chilean Dragon and Lion Dance Association presented Chinese Myths and Legends on the national stage for the first time and was well-received.
This fall, the works of the famous Chilean artist Jose Venturelli were exhibited in Beijing, Nanjing and Shanghai for the sixth time since his first exhibition in Beijing in 1957.
The Palace Museum’s cultural relics exhibition is still ongoing at the cultural center of the Chilean Presidential Palace. The exquisite artifacts showcasing the ancient Chinese splendid civilization have attracted more than 20 million visitors.
At present, China and Chile are discussing an agreement to establish a cultural center in Santiago. I believe that the establishment of the center will further promote cultural exchanges between the two countries and enhance mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples.
How do the Chile ans view China?
The people of China and Chile enjoy a long-standing friendship. Since the first group of Chinese immigrants arrived in Chile in the mid-19th century, the Chilean Chinese have worked hard to integrate into Chilean society while helping the locals to understand Chinese culture better.
When Chilean people describe a hard-working person, they often say “he works like a Chinese”.
On Oct 1, 1952, politician Salvador Allende, the famous poet Neruda, artist Venturelli and other Chilean friends initiated the creation of Latin America’s first China-friendly organization, the Chile-China Cultural Institute.
When Allende became president, he soon decided to establish diplomatic relations with China, making Chile the first South American to do so. Neruda made two visits to China and wrote poems to celebrate the Chinese revolution.
The Chilean friends of China nurtured the Chilean people’s friendly feelings toward the Chinese people. Nowadays, my Chilean friends have expressed admiration for China’s great achievement.
Li Baorong, ambassador to Chile