Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero speaks during an interview with Xinhua News Agency in Santiago, Chile, Sept. 5, 2018. The cooperation between Chile and China is essential for realizing their shared dream of development, according to Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero. To go with Interview: Chile-China cooperation key to realizing "shared dream," says Chilean FM. (Xinhua/Jorge Villegas)
by Dang Qi, Valentina Bastias Atias
SANTIAGO, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- The cooperation between Chile and China is essential for realizing their shared dream of development, according to Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero.
Ampuero spoke with Xinhua before embarking on his first official visit to China from Thursday to Saturday.
"China and Chile share the same dream. Cooperation is important. For Chile, China is an extraordinarily important country," said Ampuero.
In May, Ampuero met with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Argentina's capital Buenos Aires.
"Speaking about countries' dreams, the Chinese foreign minister told me: 'We know that (Chilean) President Sebastian Pinera has a dream and it is to transform Chile into a developed country in the coming years,'" Ampuero recalled.
That goal is a chance for China and Chile to "work together," said Wang, adding that China can help Chile realize its dream with investment, technology and know-how.
On Ampuero's desk is a copy of Chinese President Xi Jinping's book "The Governance of China," which lays out his vision of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.
"Having a dream gives you a perspective on the future. It unites a country around very clear objectives," said Ampuero, adding he has been poring over Xi's ideas.
"There are two things that interest me very much: his concept regarding domestic affairs, such as economic reform and the Chinese dream, and his global vision, such as the Belt and Road Initiative," said the minister.
Proposed in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative, which refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road.
The initiative offers a "great opportunity and a way" to unite the Chinese and Chilean dreams, Ampuero said.
"We see the Belt and Road Initiative as an element that helps to promote bilateral ties beyond where they are today," he added.
Ampuero's upcoming trip aims to strengthen the Chile-China ties by deepening cooperation with China in a wide range of areas such as trade and investment, environmental protection, the sustainable use of natural resources and water management, he said.
The South American nation is "very interested in ... expanding trade with China," attracting Chinese investment in Chile and being able to take advantage of its technological development, said Ampuero.
Chile is a very stable country that is very globally integrated, with 26 free trade agreements and good relations with its neighbors, and a leader in Latin America in many fields, he said.
China is Chile's largest trade partner, and Chile has become China's biggest supplier of fresh fruits.
China's "high demand" for imports makes it a "very attractive" market, given that "Chile has just 18 million inhabitants, too small a market to generate wealth and prosperity for the population," said Ampuero.
"Chile needs free trade and it is very critical of voices that talk of protectionism. We believe in free trade and defend it like China does," he added.
To that end, Chile values the role of trade blocs such as the Pacific Alliance, which also gathers Mexico, Colombia and Peru, he said, describing it as "the most successful integration agreement ever in Latin America."
The alliance is currently studying the possibility of merging with its older counterpart, the Southern Common Market (Mercosur).
"Chile has been asked to serve as a bridge in bringing the two blocs closer together, due to its experience in free trade agreements ... and we are trying to cooperate on it," said Ampuero.
The top Chilean diplomat is expected to travel to China again in November to attend China International Import Expo to be held in Shanghai and the Chile Week in China.
Chile was the first South American country to establish diplomatic ties with China, with the year 2020 marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of their bilateral relations.
"We want to make the most of all this energy" to advance the Chile-China relationship, said the foreign minister.