Practical cooperation shows exemplary effect in L.America, free from third party’s coercion: expert
President Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay arrived in Beijing Capital International Airport on Monday morning, kick-starting his state visit to China from Monday to Friday.
Taking place in a year that marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of relations between the Latin American country and China, Lacalle Pou’s trip is significant in further bolstering ties with its paramount trading partner, with discussions likely covering negotiation of a free trade agreement, consolidating trade of goods such as milk and dairy products, and expanding cooperation in the domains including green and digital development high on agenda, Chinese observers said.
This will be President Lacalle Pou’s first visit to China. During the visit, President Xi Jinping will host a welcome ceremony and a welcome banquet for President Lacalle. The two heads of state will hold talks to jointly blueprint the future growth of bilateral relations and have in-depth exchange of views on issues of mutual interest. They will also jointly attend a signing ceremony of cooperation documents, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a routine press conference on Monday.
Uruguay is an important country in South America, and China and Uruguay enjoy a profound traditional friendship. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Uruguay. Over the past 35 years, especially since the establishment of strategic partnership in 2016, bilateral relations have made good progress and delivered tangible benefits to both peoples, Mao said.
China believes that this visit will further consolidate the traditional friendship between China and Uruguay, deepen political mutual trust, enhance practical cooperation to a higher level, and bring China-Uruguay relations to new heights, the spokesperson noted.
Pan Deng, director of the Latin American and Caribbean Region Law Center of China University of Political Science and Law, said beef and dairy products from the Latin American country with outstanding quality have increasingly been recognized in the Chinese market. It is reasonable to expect that President Lacalle Pou would increase the trade volume of such products and hope to expand that during the state visit.
Pan, who is Secretary-General of Latin American Branch of Western Returned Scholars Association, told the Global Times on Monday that as Uruguay has enjoyed a rather rare and stable political environment in the region with a rather stable perception of China, President Lacalle Pou would also tap into cooperation potential in the fields of green trade and digital development with China during the trip, as he aspires to turn the country into one of the pioneers of regional frontier economies.
Negotiation of a free trade agreement (FTA) would also be a pivotal topic during the Uruguayan leader’s China visit, according to the expert. According to the expert, primary studies on the feasibility of the China-Uruguay FTA were initiated as early as 2016, and he has participated in the relevant works. The two countries completed the joint feasibility studies for the FTA in 2022.
Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture, and Fisheries, Fernando Mattos, who is set to accompany President Lacalle on the visit to China, expressed in a recent exclusive interview with the Xinhua News Agency that Uruguay hopes to deepen cooperation with China in the fields of agriculture and livestock, aspiring to become a “trusted and reliable food supplier” for China.
Citing official Uruguayan data, the minister said that Uruguay is an important global food producer and a significant trade partner of China. In recent years, China has become Uruguay’s largest trading partner.
In 2022, exports to China accounted for about 30 percent of Uruguay’s total exports, reaching a historic high with Uruguay’s exports to China with a significant proportion being agricultural and livestock products.
According to the General Administration of Customs of China (GAC), bilateral trade reached $7.44 billion in 2022, up 14.9 percent on a yearly basis.
Mattos, who has visited a dozen provinces and cities in China recently, deeply felt the immense potential for cooperation between the two countries in the fields of agriculture, livestock, and fisheries, especially in agricultural and livestock science and technology.
He said that he looks forward to this visit elevating Uruguay-China agricultural and livestock cooperation to a higher level. “Uruguay is a reliable partner of China,” the Uruguayan minister said, according to Xinhua.
Mattos also spoke highly of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). He stated that the initiative has promoted trade growth, improved infrastructure, and shortened the distance between Uruguay and China, Xinhua reported.
Uruguay is the first Southern Common Market (Mercosur) member country to sign an MOU with China on cooperation under the framework of the BRI.
Lacalle Pou was born in Uruguay on August 11, 1973. He served as a member of the Chamber of Representatives and speaker of the Chamber of Representatives, and was a former senator. He was elected Uruguay’s president in November 2019, and sworn in on March 1, 2020.
According to the media reports, the Uruguayan delegation accompanying President Lacalle Pou in his China visit includes government officials and approximately 40 representatives from the private sector, indicating Uruguay’s comprehensive approach toward bolstering ties with China, spanning multiple sectors.
Speaking at a gathering of US President Joe Biden and leaders from Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean in the White House in early November, Biden said that “we want to make sure that our closest neighbors know they have a real choice between debt-trap diplomacy and high-quality transparent approaches to infrastructure and inter-development,” Reuters reported on November 4.
Chinese analysts said such remarks laid bare Washington’s hegemonic approach and malicious intention to compete with China in the Latin America region which it has for a long time treated as its “backyard,” and forced regional countries to take sides, which increasingly meets reluctance from the Latin American countries.
The comprehensive and win-win cooperation between China and Uruguay has also solidified bilateral ties, and created an important exemplary effect in the Latin American region, analysts hailed; as such cooperation that benefits the two countries and doesn’t target any third party won’t be affected due to any third parties’ coercion.
Zhang Kun, an associate professor at the College of Arts, Shanghai University, and a researcher at the university’s Institute for Global Studies, told the Global Times that “the successive visits of Latin American leaders to China reflect China’s growing influence in the international community. At the same time, as a major exporter of raw materials, Latin America’s economic needs for China are also increasing. Whether it’s Brazil, Argentina, or Uruguay, there is a call for economic support from China.”