Latin America and the Caribbean in 2005-2006
Fecha：2006/05/17 Autor：Liu Weiguang
During the opening ceremony, Mr. Cheng Siwei, Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China and President of China-LAC Friendship Association, delivered a keynote speech. He said he was optimistic about the future of Sino-LAC relations because of the following reasons. Firstly, the foundation of Sino-LAC political cooperation is firm. China is willing to develop friendly relations with all LAC countries on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and win-win results. Meanwhile China hopes that all the countries without diplomatic ties with China currently shall get a clear understanding of the world situation and develop their relations with China following the one-China principle which has been universally acknowledged. Secondly, the prospect of Sino-LAC economic cooperation is broad. China and LAC have been exploring various areas for trade cooperation during recent years, nevertheless there is still a great potential for further development. He thought Sino-LAC cooperation should take a long-term strategy because only by continuously strengthening the mutual contacts can the business communities of both sides find better partners and better projects . Like in any other cooperation, Sino_LAC cooperation is not free of frictions. However they should be addressed through consultations on the basis of equality. In this regard China is ready to learn the economic development experience of LAC. Thirdly, cultural exchanges between China and LAC countries shall be strengthened. In fact, more attention shall be paid to cultural exchanges between the tow sides. This is especially true when we compare the situation of our cultural cooperation with the momentum of our political and economic cooperation. Fourthly, Sino-LAC people to people exchanges are promising. While concluding his remark, Cheng did hope “ to join in the building up of a friendship bridge between China and Latin America and the Caribbean”.
Among those Chinese officials attending the meeting were Mr. Cai Wu, Chief of the State Council Information Office, Mr. Chen Fengxiang, Vice Minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, Mr. Zeng Gang, Director-General of the Department of LAC Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs . All of them believed that LAC countries have accumulated extensive experience in various fields during their own development . Many of their experience and lessons are worth of our learning, especially in solving problems like regional disequilibrium, widening income gaps, problems related to agriculture, farmers and rural development, unemployment, social security and financial risks among many other issues. Therefore, China’s development poses a higher demand to Latin American Studies. He stressed LAC countries are playing a unique and important role in the process of world multi-polarization, globalization and modernization. The officials agreed, up to now Sino-LACrelations have entered the best period since the founding of the People's Republic of China. It’s reflected by the frequent exchanges of high-level visits and the ever deepening political ties between the two sides. All of them recognized that economic and trade exchanges stay at the center of the relationship and，in fact, they are the driving force of the vigorous development of Sino-LAC relations . However, they pointed out, from now on, the two sides should attach more importance to the people to people contacts and cooperation in humanities. The officials also put forward many insights on LAC situation and on a few noteworthy emerging trends and issues concerning Sino-LAC relationship.
The Vice-President Li Shenming, on behalf of the CASS, pointed out in his speech that people do not only pay close attention to the achievements made by LAC during their economic development, but also to their practices of searching for a path towards modernization suited to each country’s peculiarities because the experience and lessons they have drawn are becoming a common wealth to be shared by the vast developing countries across the world. They may serve China as a reference during its building up of a socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics. He also noted that the practices of LAC show, it is impossible to conduct a successful reform purely and simply following certain theoretical doctrines without taking national conditions into consideration. Recalling his visits to LAC, Li highly valued their rich cultural heritage, their strong sense of human nobility and dignity, their unyielding faith in “the poor is God”, their persistent pursing of a better and ideal life, and their glorious tradition of fighting fearlesslyand unremittingly against any exploitation and oppression. As for the path of development and the mode of cooperation, he suggested that in the current process of economic globalization, China and LAC should further amplify our cooperation areas and explore as many cooperation forms as possible within the framework of globalization. He recommended that Sino-LAC economic and trade cooperation should take a win-win pattern.
The section directed to keynote speeches of ambassadors was co-anchored by Mr. Jiang Shixue and Mr. Song Xiaoping, both are deputy directors of the ILAS. Mr. Luis Vicente Chang, Ambassador of Peru, Mrs. Rocío Maneiro Gongzález, Ambassador of Venezuela and Mr. Cesar Ferrer, Ambassador of Uruguay made excellent presentations on their national political and economic situation and their relations with China. While interacting with the ambassadors, attendant officials and scholars exchanged points of view in-depth on issues of common concern.
In the afternoon, the forum was unfolded in group discussions. One group was on economic and diplomatic issues and the other, on social and political topics. They were steered respectively by Mr. Su Zhenxing, president of the CSLAS.and Mr. Jiang Guanghua，former Vice- Minister of the International Department of the CPC’s Central Committee and honorary president of the CSLAS. Four scholars from ILAS commented the political, economic, social and diplomatic situations of LAC in 2005.
One point of view shared by the scholars is , LAC political picture is marked by overall stability with sporadic turbulences. In 2005, this characteristic became even more pronounced. During the year, political development disequilibrium was enhanced further whereas some countries continued to reform and improve their political systems eliminating a few institutional defects. In 2005 left-wing political forces in LAC made some progresses but they still have to deal with unprecedented difficulties and pressures. However, some scholars argued that LAC’s left-wing forces are not exactly what the traditional term of “Left forces” means. Therefore, studies should focus on the power shifts among various political parties instead of political forces ideologically classified. They believed the chronic social deficit in LAC explains the rise of the left forces and it is the support of the middle and lower classes that has pushed them to the power. Other scholars argued that the emerging left-wing forces of LAC should be fully affirmed, and the examination of the policies adopted by the ruling left-wing forces should be placed in the overall context of neo-liberal policies in LAC. A few participant scholars called on Chinese scholars to focus on the policies implemented by the ruling left-wing forces in LAC and put emphasis on how to promote Sino-LAC relations under these new political circumstances in LAC.
While reviewing the region’s economic performance in 2005, the scholars concluded, with remarkable structural differences among the countries, LAC continued the trend of macroeconomic stability despite of the slowing growth. They estimated the growing trend would be kept in 2006 though at lower rate.
The scholars stressed the improvement of social indicators of LAC in 2005, in particular, in the field of health. However the poverty reduction is far from being reassuring, the quality and level of education needed to be bettered, and the task of improving sanitary environment and dwelling conditions remained arduous. As economic instability and striking inequality continue to hinder the formation of a harmonious society, LAC should better conjugate their economic and social policies.
The common consent among the scholars is, LAC made remarkable progress in regional andsub-regional integration as well as the relevant cooperation mechanisms. During 2005, in addition to promote their traditional relations with the US and the EU, LAC also enhanced their relationship with other countries and regions at varying degrees. As for their relations with China, a full fledged development was achieved in 2005. At the closing of event, leaders from various institutions fully affirmed the achievements and significance of the “The CASS International Academic Forum”, regarding it as,a special high-end platform of the CASS to foster international academic exchanges and cooperation, and an important academic activity on international studies and of great social repercussions. They noted, the annual forum on the situation of Latin American and the Caribbean has become one important yearly event of the CASS. In fact, it is turning into a significant national meeting on the study of Latin America and the Caribbean of every year, and an annual gathering of officials, diplomats and scholars from China and LAC countries. Following the success of its first session in 2005, this year’s forum again brought Chinese and LAC officials and scholars together to analyze and study the current situation, reform, development and other major issues of LAC. It is not only helpful to the Chinese society in its understanding of LAC, conducive to deeper mutual understandings and better Sino-LAC relations but also significant for further improving the research level of LAC studies in the CASS and reinforcing their social effects.