by Gerardo Laborde
MONTEVIDEO, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Uruguay and China are celebrating three decades of diplomatic ties with a series of events held here.
An official ceremony and a musical gala were held on Tuesday night at the legislative palace in the capital Montevideo.
During the gala, a classical pianist and singers performed selected Uruguayan and Chinese songs including "La Cumparsita," "I Love You China" and "Red Star Shines."
Uruguay's former president Julio Maria Sanguinetti, whose government established relations with Beijing, attended the ceremony.
Jorge Gandini, president of the Chamber of Representatives, hailed his country's decision to establish relations with China in 1988.
"The success of the decision that Uruguay took with such a clear vision of the future is indisputable," Gandini said in a speech at the ceremony.
Recalling a visit to China in 2016, Gandini said he was surprised by "the technological and educational progress" of China which was "booming, developed and modern."
China's Ambassador to Uruguay Wang Gang said the bilateral ties have been marked by mutual respect, equal treatment, reciprocal benefits and win-win formulas.
The bilateral ties have become a "model of south-south cooperation," said Wang, noting the strategic partnership created between the two countries in 2016 continues to be enriched and deepened.
China is Uruguay's major trade partner and the main destination for its biggest exports. Cultural exchanges between the two countries are also on the rise. A Confucius Institute opened in May in Montevideo.
Gandini told Xinhua that "we couldn't overlook 30 years of diplomatic ties that have been growing in trade and culture."
"In addition, Uruguay has received enormous cooperation from China over the years," he added.
"There is a lot of expectation about the future," he said, especially given China's Belt and Road Initiative to develop global infrastructure and promote international trade.
"Uruguay will be a major hub here in the south for the entry of Chinese culture, goods and services, and that we will benefit from that, obviously," said Gandini.