Great Enthusiam for Jan. 8-9 China-Celac Summit

January 7, 2015

Intense diplomatic activity is taking place in the days leading up to the Jan. 8-9 ministerial meeting of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), which will formalize the China-Celac Forum whose creation was first agreed upon in January of 2014 between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Celac leaders in Havana, Cuba.

A component of the BRICS global development paradigm, the China-Celac Forum ministerial includes representatives of 30 of Celac's 33 member nations. Foreign Ministers will attend the actual summit, but other cabinet officials--trade, infrastructure, industry, defense and tourism--are also in Beijing to hold bilateral meetings with many different Chinese business, banking and government agencies to discuss financing for a range of infrastructure and industrial development projects in their nations. Several foreign ministers and heads of state and government have already arrived in Beijing for pre-summit meetings.

Four heads of state and government who make up Celac's leadership quartet--Ecuador's Rafael Correa, Costa Rica's Luis Solis, Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro, and The Bahamas' Perry Christie--are in Beijing, and all but Christie will have state visits with the Chinese President. Representatives of the Inter-American Development Bank, the Andean Development Corporation, UN Economic Commission on Latin America (ECLAC), Mercosur (Common Market of the South), and Union of South American Nations (Unasur) will also attend.

The spirit and purpose of the summit were best summarized by Zhu Qingqiao, head of the Latin America-Caribbean Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, who, according to Xinhua, said in a Jan. 5 press conference that

"guided by the slogan a 'New Platform' and 'a new starting point, and new opportunities,' and forging together a strategic association between China-Latin America and the Caribbean, the summit will concretize agreements made by President Xi and the Celac Quartet last July in Brazil,"

during the BRICS summit. This is the platform, he said, of comprehensive government cooperation led by the foreign ministries of the member nations to promote political, trade, economic, cultural and social interchange.

Zhu emphasized that every Celac member nation, including the twelve that don't have diplomatic relations with China, will have access to the fund announced by Xi last July during his tour of four Ibero-American nations, to finance infrastructure and technology projects; this includes a credit line for Caribbean nations, for a total of $70 billion. Trade between China and Ibero-America increased in 2014, surpassing by 1.5% the $240 bn. figure of 2013, and is expected to increase further in 2015, particularly given the $50 bn. investment by China's HKND Co. in the building of the new inter-oceanic Nicaragua Canal.

Compare this focused debate on real physical economic development, to the pathetic claim by White House officials in a Jan. 5 briefing on the Jan. 6 visit to Washington of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. They lied that President Barack Obama has magnificent partnerships with many Ibero-American leaders, which they argued would be cemented with the anti-development Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) this year.