Spotlight: Infrastructure construction shines in China-LatAm partnership

BEIJING, July 26 (Xinhua) -- Infrastructure construction has emerged as a highlight in the all-around cooperative China-Latin America partnership with the potential to drive bilateral cooperation to higher levels.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent visit to Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba has fully demonstrated China's strong willingness to deepen cooperation with Latin America in infrastructure construction.

During Xi's trip, China and Brazil signed a total of 56 cooperation agreements, most of which cover infrastructure construction including railway transportation and ultra-high voltage electricity transmission. Besides, China also inked a number of cooperation deals on infrastructure construction with Venezuela and Argentina.

Experts say that the China-Latin America cooperation in infrastructure construction -- a relatively weak area in Latin America -- is in consideration of the region's urgent demand.

Latin American countries need to upgrade their infrastructure such as railways, roads and ports, while China has great strength and rich experience in capital, technology, construction and operation in this regard, according to the experts.

China's advanced technology and experience in high-speed railways have attracted tremendous attention in recent years and a transcontinental railway project became a highlight in Xi's tour, noted Xu Shicheng, a senior researcher on Latin America with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

On July 17, China, Peru and Brazil issued a joint statement on cooperation in a railway that runs from the Peruvian Pacific coast to the Brazilian Atlantic coast. In his meeting with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala during the visit, Xi suggested that the three countries set up a working group to conduct overall cooperation in blueprinting, designing, building and operating the railway.

The railway will not only help South America improve its transportation system and promote regional trade, but also further boost the economic and trade cooperation between China and Latin America, the experts say.

China is not imposing so-called "neocolonialism" in Latin America, as their cooperation, which has not been restricted to energy and mining only and has expanded to infrastructure, will bring win-win results to both sides, according to Xu.

During his trip, Xi put forward a "1+3+6" framework for promoting the mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Latin America. "One" means one plan -- the Chinese-Latin American and Caribbean Cooperation Plan (2015-2019), with the aim of achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development.

"Three" refers to the "three engines" of trade, investment and financial cooperation, while "six" means focusing on the six fields of energy and resources, infrastructure construction, agriculture, manufacturing, scientific and technological innovation, and information technology.

The Chinese president also announced that Beijing will launch the 10-billion-dollar Special Loans for Chinese-Latin American and Caribbean Infrastructure and, on this basis, increase the credit line to 20 billion dollars.

He added that Beijing also encourages more Chinese enterprises to invest in Latin America with the aim of increasing the stock of Chinese investment in the region to 250 billion dollars in 10 years.

The "1+3+6" framework, which sets ambitious goals, shows that the Chinese leadership attaches high importance to promoting China-Latin America relations, said Xu, the CASS researcher.

Data released by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce indicate that the projects undertaken by Chinese companies in Latin America have covered such fields as natural gas pipelines, power stations, highways, harbor dredging, housing and telecommunication facilities.

A senior official with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said earlier that China and Latin America enjoy bright prospects for economic and trade cooperation, as their economies are highly complementary.

China, as the largest developing country, has a big domestic market and a great development future, while Latin American countries are implementing economic restructuring and are vigorously developing their infrastructure.

The complementarity between China and Latin America has become an important basis for further deepening the China-Latin America win-win cooperation and the biggest advantage for developing bilateral ties in the future, the senior official said.

Furthermore, leaders of BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- announced last week the establishment of a BRICS development bank.

The bank, which will support BRICS members and other emerging economies in constructing infrastructure, is also expected to benefit China-Latin America cooperation in infrastructure construction.