SANTIAGO — Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in the Chilean capital of Santiago Tuesday afternoon for a state visit to the Latin American country.
Chile is the third leg of Xi’s three-nation Latin America tour, which has already taken him to Ecuador and Peru. In Peru, Xi also attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting.
According to a written speech upon arrival, Xi hailed Chile as an important country in Latin America, saying that Chile, the first South American nation to have established diplomatic relationship with the People’s Republic of China, has made a string of “firsts” in developing relations with China.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 46 years ago, the two sides have deepened their political mutual trust, and nurtured a fruitful all-round cooperation and exchanges, said the Chinese leader, adding that bilateral cooperation is facing an even broader prospect for development.
“My visit this time is to strengthen traditional friendship, deepen mutually-beneficial cooperation and boost common development,” he said, adding that he expects to join the Chilean leaders during the trip to blueprint the future development of China-Chile ties.
“I believe that this visit will surely promote China-Chile relations to a new level so that the peoples of the two nations can enjoy more benefits,” he said.
Chile established diplomatic ties with China in 1970, the first country in South America to do so. Meanwhile, Chile was the first Latin American country to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with China, and the first one in Latin America to acknowledge China’s full market economy status.
Bilateral trade volume has grown fourfold since the FTA went into effect in 2006. China is now Chile’s largest trading partner, its largest export destination and the largest buyer of copper products.
Currently, Chile is China’s second largest source of wine imports, with bottled wine exports to China up by 46 percent in 2015. The two countries have signed a number of quarantine agreements on cherries, blueberries and avocados.
China has become an important market for Chilean cherries, blueberries, apples, grapes and a variety of seafood such as salmon. Chinese products with good quality and competitive prices are also popular among Chilean consumers. For example, Chinese-made cars have taken up a considerable share of the Chilean auto market.
China’s first RMB clearing bank in Latin America was opened in Chile in June this year, setting up a platform to upgrade financial cooperation between China, Chile and the rest of Latin America.