Chinese president's Ecuador visit opens up new era for bilateral ties

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/11/19 11:44:43

The past two days have seen a fruitful visit to Ecuador by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the first Chinese head of state who have visited the Latin American nation in 36 years.

Though the Chinese leader arrived in the country on Thursday afternoon and departed for Lima, capital city of Peru, the next day, he held talks with top leaders of the country, witnessed the signing of a number of cooperation agreements, met with the press, and visited the headquarters of Ecuador's national emergency response system.


The most important achievement throughout this visit is that China and Ecuador agreed to lift their bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

The two countries established a strategic partnership in Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa's second official visit to Beijing last year. Ecuador is now a major destination for Chinese investment and financing in Latin America.

In his talks with Correa, Xi noted that since 2015, mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides has seen rapid development in a wide range of areas, adding that bilateral ties have since been greatly enriched and have picked up momentum towards comprehensive development.

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.

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.


According to a joint statement issued on Thursday, China and Ecuador have agreed to boost their cooperation in production capacity, as well as economic and trade areas.

Seeking to boost production capacity and investment cooperation, the two countries pledged to implement major projects in oil and gas, mining, infrastructure, water conservancy, communication and finance, and explore cooperation in agriculture, petrochemical industry, ship building, metallurgy and paper making industries.

China is willing to work with Ecuador in technology transfer so as to boost the country's industrialization and strengthen its capacity in self-driven development.

The two sides also pledged to encourage their companies and financial institutions to discuss possible cooperation on the Pacific Refinery, a large petrochemical complex in Ecuador's northern province of Manabi, which is going to be a pillar of petrochemical industry in Ecuador and the whole region as well.

On trade, Beijing and Quito agreed to seek a steady, sustainable and balanced trade growth, and vowed to make it more convenient for their own products to tap into the other's markets.

China and Ecuador also agreed to enhance their cooperation in education, culture, health, sports, tourism and judiciary, bolster exchanges between media, artists and students of the two countries, increase the number of student exchanges, so as to boost understanding and friendship of the two peoples.

Also in the statement, China and Ecuador agreed that pragmatic cooperation is an important part of their comprehensive strategic partnership.

The two sides are also willing to further align their development strategies, and give full play to a series of cooperation mechanisms in such areas as production capacity, investment, trade, agriculture and technology.


On Friday, the top Chinese leader also visited ECU-911 headquarters, where he promised further support for earthquake-hit Ecuador in disaster relief and reconstruction.

China provided Ecuador with cash support of two million US dollars and humanitarian aid worth 9.2 million dollars after the fatal quake. Chinese companies owning business in Ecuador also dispatched staff and resources to the affected regions to participate in the disaster relief and humanitarian aid. "China will take an active part in Ecuador's post-quake rebuilding, and continue to provide support in housing, medical treatment, human resources and disaster prevention and reduction," Xi said in an address at the headquarters.

Ecuador was hit by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake in April this year. Nearly 700 people were killed in the earthquake, which also injured about 5,000 more and displaced 80,000.

China was one of the first countries to supply humanitarian aid immediately after the quake.

Accompanying Xi during the tour, President Correa thanked China for its support in Ecuador's post-quake relief and national development, adding that the Latin American county is willing to deepen win-win cooperation with the Chinese side.

Earlier in the morning, the two presidents also watched a photo exhibition on Chinese aid to Ecuador's quake relief work, and inaugurated a joint laboratory at ECU-911 headquarters.

Developed by Chinese companies, the ECU-911 played a vital role in relief work following the April quake, by effectively processing a massive amount of information and sending timely instructions, thus saving numerous lives and preventing further damage. Currently, there are 16 ECU-911 centers across Ecuador.


Earlier in the day, Xi and Correa also watched via live broadcast the foundation stone laying ceremony of a new hospital built with Chinese assistance in the earthquake-stricken Ecuadorian city of Chone, to replace the one that was seriously damaged in the April earthquake.

They also inaugurated a hydroelectric plant built by China's Sinohydro Corporation.

The Coca Codo Sinclair (CCS) hydroelectric plant is the largest of its kind in Ecuador's history and the "fruition of the great cooperation between Ecuador and China," according to President Correa.

With an installed capacity of 1,500 megawatts, the plant is expected to help Ecuador transform from a power-hungry country into a clean energy exporter and greatly contribute to the country's economic development.

The first four of the eight turbines in total at the plant were started on April 13, only three days before the quake. It remained intact during the quake and the power it generated helped with local disaster relief.

In his address, Xi noted that the upgrading of the ECU-911, and rebuilding of the Chone hospital and the completion of the CCS hydroelectric plant will effectively bolster Ecuador's disaster prevention and resistance capabilities, and improve its public infrastructure.

Correa, meanwhile, agreed that cooperation between Ecuador and China has improved infrastructure in his county, boosted its clean energy development and bolstered the country's public security service, saying that all these have benefited the Ecuadorian people.

Ecuador is the first leg of President Xi's three-nation Latin American tour which also takes him to Peru and Chile. This is his third visit to Latin America since he assumed the presidency in March 2013.

He will also attend the 24th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting while in Lima, capital of Peru.


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