Sun, 26 Mar 2023

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MEXICO CITY, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) should deepen regional integration and forge even closer ties with China, some experts and diplomats have said after Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the CELAC Summit on Tuesday via a video link.

In his speech, Xi said that CELAC has played an important role in safeguarding regional peace, promoting common development and advancing regional integration, noting that China always supports the regional integration process of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Eugenia Dos Santos, an expert at the Chile-based University of Santiago, said that Xi's remarks highlighted regional integration, people's welfare, justice and peace, among others, and reaffirmed China's support for the region's economic recovery.

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"Economic integration is not only an advantage for the region, but a matter of life or death" at a time of global economic slowdown, said David Castrillon Kerrigan, an international relations academic at the Externado University of Colombia, calling regional integration an "existential issue."

Against the backdrop of a changing international order, deeper regional integration will grant regional countries a say on a range of issues of both regional and global significance, including climate change, new technologies, anti-corruption and the reform of global institutions, Kerrigan said.

Latin American integration was not driven by ideology or politics, "but by a real integration that includes all regional countries, without exclusion," he added.

Argentine sociologist Marcelo Rodriguez believed that strengthening CELAC integration would help forge a relationship with China at the regional level as a whole and not just with each country.

Xi's speech conveyed the message that China values its "friendly and cooperative" relations with CELAC, an integral part of the Global South, said Decio Machado, an international political analyst and a Spanish citizen who has been living in Ecuador for years.

Former Bolivian Foreign Minister Fernando Huanacuni said Xi's speech reaffirmed China's commitment to greater cooperation with the region through the China-CELAC Forum. "We can cooperate regionally with China for win-win and shared benefits."

"This platform (China-CELAC Forum) provides the region with the possibility to participate in a more active way in the Chinese initiatives for global security and development as well as for the creation of a community with a shared future," Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said.

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China's cooperation with CELAC contributes to the main development needs of regional countries, namely infrastructure and economic support, without the imposition of conditions, said Pamela Cristales, an academic at the Mexico-based Autonomous University of Yucatan.

"Multilateralism encourages all countries to seek solutions to common challenges," Cristales said, adding that China's proposals share common values with CELAC's goals of seeking "cooperation based on mutual respect, the promotion of dialogue among equals, respect for sovereignty and non-interventionism."

"China's contribution to the Latin American and Caribbean region has been made evident in recent years through South-South cooperation, equality for developing countries and proposals such as the Belt and Road Initiative," said Gonzalo Tordini, director of the China-Argentine Strategic Program at the National Defense University in Buenos Aires.

Former Peruvian Foreign Minister Miguel Rodriguez Mackay believed that China offers CELAC the opportunity to turn shared development into a reality through closer cooperation, recommending that the region strengthen ties with China for fruitful outcomes that benefit all sides, particularly in the areas of technology and industrialization.

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