BEIJING, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- With closer ties in trade, investment and culture, cooperation between China and Peru has entered the "fast lane."
Chinese President Xi Jinping is currently in Lima, Peru's capital, for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting and related events and a state visit to Peru, the second leg of his week-long trip in Latin America.
Xi's visit comes hot on the heels of Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's state visit to Beijing in September, the Peruvian president's first foreign trip in his new capacity.
Such intense high-level interactions "will send a strong signal of China and Peru working together for common development," wrote Xi in a signed article on Peruvian newspaper El Comercio prior to his visit.
DEEPENING TRADE TIES
On Monday, a slew of procurement agreements worth 2 billion U.S. dollars were inked by businesses of the two countries in Peru's capital of Lima, covering light industry, textiles, agriculture, medicine, metals and mining.
"China as the most vigorous economy in the world has contributed to the consistent development of Peru in the past 15 years," said Juan Manuel Varilias Velasquez, chairman of the Peruvian Association of Exporters, adding that the agreements will further strengthen bilateral ties.
The South American country has established a comprehensive strategic partnership with China, the highest level of relations between China and Latin American countries, which provides a privileged platform for deepening ties.
The China-Peru Free Trade Agreement, which came into force in 2010, also facilitated bilateral cooperation.
Meanwhile, various economic cooperation mechanisms have been promoted to boost production capacity cooperation in the areas of mining, energy and infrastructure construction.
China has been Peru's largest trading partner, export market and source of import while Peru has become China's third-largest trade partner in Latin America.
Last year, trade between the two sides hit a record high of nearly 15 billion dollars. In the first eight months of this year, trade grew by 9 percent year-on-year, with Peruvian exports to China rising by 21.8 percent.
Peruvian avocados are well received in China, much the same way Peruvians buy and use made-in-China smartphones, cars and construction machines.
Over 170 Chinese businesses have invested more than 14 billion dollars in Peru, helping to create tens of thousands of jobs and new sources of tax revenue for local communities and benefiting the economic and social development in the country.
Though a recent slump in commodity prices has dampened growth in trade, it did not affect the long-term prospects.
"The region still has huge growth potential and a bright outlook, with China's confidence in ties evidenced by Xi's visit," said Yue Yunxia, a researcher with the Institute of Latin American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Peru and China are at the right time to further promote their economic ties, Peruvian economist Fernando Gonzalez told Xinhua.
Some Peruvian companies have begun to enter e-commerce partnerships with Chinese counterparts, covering ornaments, alcohol, auto parts and machinery.
Besides, a railway project linking the Pacific and the Atlantic is under discussion by the two governments. If completed, the project will make it easier for exports from Latin America to reach China's northern port city of Tianjin.
EXPANDING PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE EXCHANGES
Exchanges and cooperation between China and Peru in culture, education, science and technology, health and the judicial sector as well as links between media organizations, think tanks and youths are growing.
With a time-honored history, Peru's dazzling cultural heritage such as the Inca civilization and Machu Picchu are favored tourist destinations.
Last year, the country welcomed nearly 25,000 Chinese tourists. "We believe this will grow, once air connectivity improves," said Fredy Gamarra, president of Peru's National Chamber of Tourism.
Gamarra expected the number of Chinese visitors to reach 50,000 in 2017 and will further grow in the long run.
In fact, China and Peru enjoy long friendship. Of the 30 million Peruvians, nearly 3 million descended from Chinese ancestry. Chinese culture has been highly valued in the country. The four Confucius Institutes in Peru have attracted more than 4,000 registered students.
Traditional Chinese medicine is quite popular in Peru, providing a window for Peruvians to experience the Chinese culture. Around 50 traditional Chinese medicine clinics have opened in Lima alone, and 70 percent of them are established by local doctors.
"Through traditional Chinese medicine, my children and I are increasingly interested in Chinese culture," a 40-year-old local employee Caryn Centeno told Xinhua.
"I'm encouraging my children to compete for a short-term exchange program in China so that they can travel to China and learn Chinese culture first-hand," Centeno said.