Confucius Institute Latin America Regional Center Holds China-Latin America Forum on “Bond across the Ocean”

[Source]    people.com.cn [Time]    2018-01-29 17:36:18 
 

On January 20th, the grand opening ceremony of the China-Latin America Forum on “Bond across the Ocean”, sponsored by the Confucius Institute Latin America Regional Center (CILARC), and organized by the Asia Pacific at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile (AP), the Chinese Embassy in Chile, Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) and the University of Saint Thomas, kicked off in Santiago, Chile. Nearly 100 people including Rafael Puelma, Deputy Director of AP; Liu Yuqin, former Chinese Ambassador to Chile, Ecuador and Cuba; Zeng Gang, former Chinese Ambassador to Argentina, Ecuador and Mexico; Wang Xiaoyuan, former Chinese Ambassador to Colombia, Costa Rica and Uruguay; Eugenio Anguiano Roch, former Mexican Ambassador to China; Jose M. Borja L., former Ecuadorian Ambassador to China; Pablo Echavarria Toro, former Colombian Ambassador to China; Fernando Reyes Matta, former Chilean Ambassador to China; Dr. Jaime Vatter, President of the University of Saint Thomas; Zhang Wangxi, Vice President of BLCU; Chilean government officials, representatives of cultural and educational institutions and Chinese and overseas Chinese representatives attended the forum.


Roberto Lafontaine, Director of the CILARC delivering the opening speech

Roberto Lafontaine, Director of the CILARC delivered an opening speech at the forum. He noted that China has enjoyed increasing influence over Latin America in the past decade. Both sides have been deepening cooperation in the fields of economy, politics, science and technology, and also promoting more frequent exchanges in culture and education. In particular, the establishment of the Confucius Institute has paved the way for the exchange of languages and cultures between China and Latin America. There are currently 39 Confucius Institutes and 11 Confucius Classrooms in Latin America and the Caribbean, with the number of students surpassing 50,000. Moreover, cultural activities cover more than 8 million people. Chinese has become the second most popular foreign language in Chile and other Latin American countries. Learning Chinese and understanding China have gradually become the consensus and trend among the Latin American people. The CILARC actively organized planned the forum in a bid to help Latin American people better understand the progress and challenges of Sino-Latin American cooperation and the broad prospects for cooperation in the future through high-level dialogues and exchanges among ambassadors, and enhance people’s understanding of the importance and urgency to learn Chinese and Chinese culture.


Rafael Puelma, Deputy Director of the Asia Pacificat the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile delivering a speech


Jaime Vatter, President of the University of Saint Thomas

Rafael Puelma, Deputy Director of AP highly affirmed the CILARC for holding this forum in his speech. He expressed that the forum is of great importance to deepening China-Latin America exchanges, strengthening mutual understanding and learning China’s latest policy direction. He further pointed out that the frequent visits between leaders of China and Chile, especially the signing of the protocol on upgrading bilateral FTA provide guarantee and impetus for the sustainability of the cooperation between the two countries. In Chile, both the government and civilians have realized that strengthening cooperation with China and realizing advantageous complementarities can benefit Chilean people and are of great importance to the future economic and social development of Chile. To this end, enthusiasm towards China’s culture and language has constantly formed. The Chilean government also vigorously pushed forward the “Chile Week” activities held in Beijing, Chengdu and Hong Kong, in 2017, and actively introduced and promoted Chile’s advantageous products and tourist resources. Dr. Jaime Vatter, President of the University of Saint Thomas agreed on the views of Rafael Puelma. Vatter noted that the university jointly built the Confucius Institute with Anhui University in 2008. Over the past decade, it has also formed cooperative ties with Anhui University and many other Chinese universities through the Confucius Institute, carried out the exchange student program, and sent many Chilean students to study and exchange in China by launching the “Confucius Institute Scholarship” of Hanban.


Jose M. Borja L., former Ecuadorian Ambassador to China delivering a speech


Zeng Gang, former Chinese Ambassador to Argentina, Ecuador and Mexico delivering a speech


Eugenio Anguiano Roch, former Mexican Ambassador to China delivering a speech

Seven former ambassadors from China and Latin America delivered speeches respectively on the history of China-Latin America cooperation, current situation and future development challenges and trends. They agreed that although China and Latin American countries have experienced some twists and turns while exploring their development paths, once again putting the economy as the focus of their development, the cooperation between them has made great strides and achieved advantageous complementarities. At present, China has become the second largest trading partner in Latin America, following only the United States. China is also the largest trading partner of Brazil, Chile, Peru and Uruguay and the second largest trading partner of Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba and Costa Rica. It is also the largest export market for Brazil, Chile and Peru, and the second largest export market for Argentina and Colombia. As the world’s second largest economy and an important engine for global economy, China’s development provides opportunities for the development of Latin America. China has now become an important energy cooperation partner and economic and trade partner in Latin America, and China's financial investment is playing a crucial role in such fields as infrastructure construction in the region.


Liu Yuqin, former Chinese Ambassador to Chile, Ecuador and Cuba delivering a speech


Pablo Echavarria Toro, former Colombian Ambassador to China, delivering a speech

The proposal of a community with a shared future for mankind, and especially the establishment of the China-CELAC Forum mechanism in 2015 and the second policy paper on Latin America and the Caribbean released by China have demonstrated China’s development ideas of building a relationship that seeks common grounds while reserving differences and makes progress collaboratively with other countries, and its long-term goal of developing long-standing friendly cooperation with Latin American countries. Namely, China-Latin America relations will be pushed to reach a new stage of cooperation and the two sides will further expand and deepen their cooperation in politics, economy, trade, people-to-people and cultural and social fields. This policy will become the cornerstone and direction of long-standing cooperation between China and Latin America.


Wang Xiaoyuan, former Chinese Ambassador to Colombia, Costa Rica and Uruguay delivering a speech


Fernando Reyes Matta, former Chilean Ambassador to China delivering a speech

Former ambassadors also pointed out that the prospect of China-Latin America cooperation is very promising, while it faces specific challenges such as the political instability in some countries of the bloc, the weak price of resource-based products caused by the global economic slowdown, difficult communication caused by the lack of full understanding and etc. To this end, they noted that in future cooperation, both sides should strengthen exchanges between their governments, and mirror each other’s state governance, so as to achieve “good governance”. Latin American countries need to diversify their export commodities and get rid of the single resource-based export way. The people of the continent, along with the people of China, should further enhance mutual understanding of history, language, culture and way of thinking. In this regard, the Confucius Institute plays a very important role as a bond. Through various language curriculums, cultural activities and scholarship programs, the institute provides a window for Latin Americans to learn Chinese and Chinese culture and foster and reserve a large number of talents for future cooperation and development between both sides, becoming a successful model for people-to-people and cultural exchanges.


Zhang Wangxi, Vice President of BLCU delivering a speech


Ambassadors and some guests

The forum also set up free discussions and interactive sessions. Several ambassadors and scholars said that Chinese teaching and China studies should be greatly strengthened in Latin America, and it is imperative that more Chinese-language majors and China study centers be established. At the end of the forum, Zhang Wangxi, Vice President of BLCU, made a closing speech. He noted that although China and Latin America are far apart, their relations are but close. The vision of a community with a shared future for mankind proposed by Xi Jinping is a win-win development concept, which is in line with the common benefits of all human beings and also suitable for the cooperation and development between China and Latin America. He expressed that the Confucius Institute and BLCU will continue playing an important role in the future in promoting exchanges and cooperation in the fields of people-to-people and cultural education and realizing exchanges and cooperation in seeking common grounds while preserving differences.

(Story and photos by Chen Xiaowei, people.com.cn, January 21st, Rio de Janeiro)