China, Ecuador lift ties to comprehensive strategic partnership

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/11/18 9:11:40

China and Ecuador agreed on Thursday to lift bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership, in a bid to further strategic mutual trust and win-win cooperation between the two countries.

Speaking to journalists together with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa hours after he arrived in Quito, visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping said the two heads of state have agreed to elevate ties between their countries and make this a new starting point to seek more fruitful results in practical cooperation in various fields.

"We will treat the China-Ecuador relationship from a strategic and long-term perspective, and work together with the Ecuadorian side to further development from a new starting point," Xi said.

1ST HISTORIC VISIT BY A CHINESE HEAD OF STATE TO ECUADOR

Xi is on a three-nation Latin American tour, the third of its kind to the continent since he assumed the presidency in March 2013.

The first leg of the week-long tour to Ecuador is the first state visit by a Chinese president to the country since the two sides established diplomatic ties in 1980.

Already, the visit had been described as "historic" in Quito.

"The establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership is of historic significance," Correa said when meeting the press. He said the bilateral relationship has reached an "unprecedented" level.

As the world's second-largest economy with a high speed of growth, China can play a very important role in bolstering Ecuador's development, especially against the backdrop of low oil prices, said the Ecuadorian president.

Noting China does not attach any political strings when assisting other countries, Correa told journalists that China is a reliable partner and that cooperation with the Asian country helps consolidate Ecuador's sovereignty, accelerate its industrialization and improve its capability of self-reliant development.

He said his country and China share a lot of common interests and that they can cooperate extensively. "The gate of Ecuador will always be open to you, to the Chinese people," Correa said.

STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP OF MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL, SUCCESSFUL COOPERATION

Despite a long distance separating the two countries, cooperation between China and Ecuador in trade and finance has yielded great success in recent years.

The two countries established a strategic partnership in 2015 during Correa's second visit to China. China is currently the third largest trade partner of Ecuador, while the latter is now a major destination for Chinese investment and financing in Latin America, with two-way trade reaching 4.1 billion US dollars in 2015, quadrupling in just 10 years.

In his talks with Correa earlier on Thursday, Xi said Ecuador is an important country in Latin America, adding that bilateral ties have witnessed substantial development in recent years.

Xi said that since 2015, mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides has seen rapid development in a wide range of areas, with the scale of collaboration continuing to increase.

Bilateral ties have since been greatly enriched and picking up momentum toward comprehensive development, he said.

RELATIONS ENTER NEW PHASE, HERALDING BRIGHTER PROSPECTS

The Chinese president said China-Ecuador relations have now entered a key phase where cooperation between the two countries is of greater importance to both sides.

China will continue to support Ecuador in exploring a development path that suits its own conditions, and will actively take part in Ecuador' s post-earthquake reconstruction work, he said.h

China is also willing to reinforce pragmatic cooperation with the Ecuadorian side in all areas, comprehensively step up the integration of interests of both sides, expand cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and open up brighter prospects for bilateral ties, Xi said.

He went on to pledge support for Ecuador's presidency of the Group of 77 (G77) next year, saying that China is willing to maintain close cooperation with G77 in multilateral affairs.

China will also work with Ecuador to boost overall cooperation with Latin America and push for greater development in China-Latin America relations, he added.

For his part, Correa likened Xi's visit to "a get-together between friends," and said he believes the Chinese president's Ecuador trip will serve to boost bilateral relations and cooperation as well as bring more benefits to people on both sides.

Ecuador has always pursued a one-China policy, and is committed to strengthening exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in political, economic as well as cultural and people-to-people fields, Correa said.

Also on Thursday, Xi and Correa witnessed the signing of a string of cooperation agreements in the areas of production capacity, investment, industrial parks, economic technologies, judiciary and media.

President Xi will leave for Peru and Chile after finishing his state visit to Ecuador. He will also attend the 24th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting in Lima, capital of Peru.

NEW STARTING POINT TO DEEPEN TRUST, WIN-WIN COOPERATION

In their talks, the two presidents agreed to make the elevation of bilateral ties a new starting point to deepen strategic mutual trust, seek greater achievements in mutually beneficial cooperation and boost the healthier and faster development of bilateral ties.

Liu Yuqin, former Chinese ambassador to Ecuador, said the decision to elevate bilateral ties represents the positive response of the two countries' top leaders to the calls for more pragmatic and win-win cooperation in all fields.

"The official endorsement has always been an essential element in boosting bilateral exchanges," Liu said.

The former ambassador said one of the most notable highlights of bilateral exchanges was the construction of hydroelectric stations by Chinese companies in Ecuador, a country rich in hydropower but hungry for energy due to the lack of infrastructure and financial and technological support.

"Take Coca Codo Sinclair (CCS) hydroelectric station for instance, the project is the largest of its kind in South America. Together with other stations built by Chinese companies, the CCS will make the country self-sufficient in clean power and become an electricity exporter. That means a lot to Ecuador's economic development and people's wellbeing," Liu said.

Wu Baiyi, director of the Institute of Latin American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, pointed out that the tenacity of Chinese-made projects enhanced Ecuador's confidence in China and its technological edge.

EARTHQUAKE RELIEF, RECONSTRUCTION AID PROMOTES FRIENDSHIP

Bilateral amity was further enhanced after Ecuador was hit by a devastating earthquake in April this year, which killed close to 700 people, injured nearly 5,000 more and displaced 80,000. China was one of the first countries to supply humanitarian aid immediately after the quake.

China also provided cash support of two million dollars and humanitarian aid worth 9.2 million dollars to Ecuador after the fatal quake.

Chinese companies in Ecuador also dispatched staff and resources to the affected regions to participate in the disaster relief and humanitarian aid.

Correa said the Ecuadorian side appreciates China's firm support in its quake relief and post-quake construction work.

According to Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Guillaume Long, China has offered the most aid and support to his country in the immediate hours after the quake.

Daniel Santos with Ecuador's Disaster Relief and Reconstruction Commission said that China's helping hand will further promote friendship between the two countries.

The ambitious CCS project, constructed by the Chinese company Sinohydro, is expected to meet 44 percent of Ecuador's energy demand.

Power generated by the plant played a key role in Ecuador's quake relief in the wake of the April earthquake.



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