Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping heralds new 'golden era' for Latin America

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 June, 2013, 3:42am

President Xi Jinping heralded the dawn of a new "golden era" for Latin America during a visit to Mexico and urged the region to hitch its economic development to China's solid growth.

"New contact with the region, so full of hope and dynamism, makes me convinced Latin America has unbeatable conditions favouring its development," the Chinese leader told Mexico's Senate on Wednesday, the second day of his visit.

Xi's is the first state visit of President Enrique Pena Nieto's six-month-old government, which hailed it as giving "new impetus" to bilateral ties after they passed through a cool phase.

Xi highlighted that he and Pena Nieto had upgraded ties to what he called a "comprehensive strategic partnership".

"By doing this, we send a strong message to the international community that China and Mexico will form a common front to face various challenges in the future," Xi said. "The relationship between China and the region is now at an important stage of accelerated development."

In recent years China has expanded trade and investment ties with Latin America as the world's second-biggest economy taps into the region's mineral and oil wealth to fuel its growth.

Now Beijing is also keenly interested in increasing food supply chains as it seeks to counterbalance US geopolitical heft.

By around 2016, China will overtake the European Union as the second-largest market for Latin America's exports, United Nations figures show.

Xi predicted China's economic growth would remain "relatively fast" and appealed to countries across the region to deepen their ties with the Asian giant and its outsized role in the global economy.

China "will invest more than US$500 billion overseas in the next five years", Xi said, while Chinese nationals would make an estimated 400 million trips abroad during that same period, with great economic implications for their destinations.

"There will be more Chinese tourists at the temples of the moon and sun" at the pre-Aztec Teotihuacan ruins near the capital, Xi pledged to Mexican lawmakers, and more "at Chichen Itza and on the beaches of Acapulco".

Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan , were to tour the Mayan pyramids at Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula yesterday.

Growing numbers of Chinese are travelling outside the mainland, but of the 93 million who did so last year, only 47,810 visited Mexico.

Mexico is a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement, along with the United States and Canada.

In their meeting on Wednesday, Xi and Pena Nieto vowed to smooth over their long-standing rivalry on exporting products to the US and to work jointly to access it and other international markets.

Meanwhile first lady Peng, a famed soprano, and her Mexican counterpart, former telenovela star Angelica Rivera, toured a facility producing soap operas, a hugely successful Mexican export.

Xi arrived in Mexico after visiting Costa Rica, and after meeting Caribbean leaders in Trinidad and Tobago.

Agence France-Presse, McClatchy Tribune