BEIJING, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Officials and Scholars have spoken highly of Chinese President Xi Jinping's congratulatory message to the second ministerial meeting for the China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Forum and anticipated more cooperation between the two regions under the Belt and Road Initiative.
"The congratulatory letter from President Xi Jinping is a letter that we have expected for a long time. The promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative led Latin America into a new era," said Enrique Posada, director of the Confucius Institute and coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Observatory both based in Colombia's Jorge Tadeo University.
The Chinese president's words have been broadly welcomed, said Eloy Alfaro, former Panamanian Ambassador to the United States, as they were "constructive and hopeful."
In the congratulatory message, Xi said that he put forward the Belt and Road Initiative four years ago with the aim of building a new platform for international cooperation based on infrastructure connectivity, hoping to boost development across the world.
The proposal has been warmly welcomed by the international community including many CELAC members, Xi said.
"It is a very visionary development plan, which could be combined with our Latin American and Caribbean countries' own national development programs and goals. We are willing to participate," said Kamina Johnson-Smith, Jamaica's minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade.
Dennis Moses, Trinidad and Tobago's Foreign and the Caribbean Community Affairs Minister, believes that this initiative has aroused strong passions for participation among Latin American and Caribbean countries.
"The Belt and Road Initiative is a significant creation and has become a new opportunity of China-Latin America cooperation," Moses said.
Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe, Africa, and beyond, along the ancient Silk Road trade routes.
Though geographically far apart, China's efforts in localizing the Belt and Road Initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean have been widely recognized among experts.
Latin America is a "natural extension" of the Belt and the Road, said Patricio Giusto, chief executive officer of Diagnostico Politico, a local think tank in Argentina. "The cooperation framework would fuel more trade and investment between China and Latin America."
In the distant past, the people of China and Latin America overcame great difficulty in crossing vast seas and jointly created the maritime Silk Road spanning the Pacific, said Xi.
"For those Latin America countries who have not entered into cooperation with China, it is no doubt a great opportunity," Posada said, referring to Xi's message as a "chance to accept the invitation from China in recent years."
"The ties between China and Latin America would be enriched with their destinies tightly bound," Giusto noted.
Alicia Barcena, who has watched China's evolving relationship with the region from a front-row seat as executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, said in terms of public policy, China and CELAC members can work together to meet their separate targets.
"China is not only going to build a land-ocean integrated connectivity, but also to enhance aviation and digital connectivity," she said.
(Xinhua reporters Dang Qi, Wang Pei, He Shan, Cui Yuanlei, Su Jin, and Ni Ruijie contributed to the story.)