Chile's president-elect Sebastian Pinera speaks at a press conference in Santiago, Chile, Dec. 18, 2017. Pinera said on Monday he plans to expand ties with China in various areas, from investment to infrastructure building, once in office. (Xinhua/Wang Pei)
SANTIAGO, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- Chile's president-elect Sebastian Pinera said on Monday he plans to expand ties with China in various areas, from investment to infrastructure building, once in office.
"We all know China is Chile's leading trade partner and we are going to strengthen that relationship," Pinera said at a press conference with foreign correspondents.
"We are going to expand and deepen not just our trade ties, but also ties in the field of investment, in collaboration in the matter of science and technology, or in the matter of infrastructure and engineering. And so, we are looking with a lot of optimism and hope at strengthening ties between Chile and China," said Pinera.
The pro-business Pinera, who served as Chile's president from 2010 to 2014, handily won Sunday's presidential runoff as the candidate of the right-of-center "Chile Vamos" coalition and will take office for the second time on March 11, 2018.
Pinera also thanked China's Foreign Affairs Ministry for congratulating him on his victory.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters at a press conference on Monday that "We believe that under the leadership of President Pinera, the Chilean people will score new achievements in the course of national development."
Ties between the two countries have a long history, Pinera noted.
"For many decades, we have had a very good relationship," he said.
Chile was the first South American nation to establish diplomatic ties with China, and the first Latin American country to back China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), to recognize China as a market economy, and to sign a free trade agreement with the Asian giant.
Pinera said he had fond recollections of the Asian country from his first term, saying he still remembers "with great affection" the state visit to China in November 2010.
He added, "I want to tell President Xi Jinping that he is spearheading and leading a process that has signified great progress for China, and he has strengthened not just trade ties, but collaboration between our countries in many other fields."
Chile considers the Asia-Pacific region to be a key component of its global trade and integration plans.
"The Asia-Pacific is the world of the future, and Chile is not only part of the area, but it is also deeply committed to achieving greater economic integration and greater collaboration in this context," said the president-elect.