Chinese leader woos Latin America with deals
By Laurent Thomet ,AFP
July 19, 2014, 12:03 am TWN
BRASILIA -- China's president pressed a charm offensive with Latin America on Thursday, signing deals with Brazil, meeting regional leaders and proposing a US$20 billion infrastructure fund that highlights Beijing's growing interests in the region.
President Xi Jinping was greeted by a military honor guard in Brasilia by President Dilma Rousseff before overseeing the signing of a raft of agreements during a state visit.
Xi then met behind-closed doors with a dozen Latin American and Caribbean leaders, including Cuba's communist President Raul Castro.
After the summit, Rousseff said China proposed the creation of a US$20 billion fund to finance infrastructure projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.
He also offered a credit line of up to US$10 billion to nations of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
In addition, a Chinese-Latin American cooperation fund of US$5 billion would be set up for investments.
Earlier, Rousseff and Xi oversaw the signing of several agreements between the two emerging powers.
Chinese companies agreed to buy 60 Brazilian Embraer E190 passenger airplanes worth a total of US$3.2 billion.
The two countries also reached agreements to cooperate in railway projects and shipping that could facilitate Brazilian exports to resource-hungry China.
The Asian giant's import-export bank will loan US$5 billion over three years to Brazilian mining powerhouse Vale so that the company, which ships iron ore to China, can buy or rent vessels.
The two nations signed a cooperation agreement for railway projects, with Brazil hoping China will help build tracks linking the continent-sized South American country to Peru's Pacific coast.
Xi and Rousseff, whose nations marked 40 years of diplomatic relations, also launched the Portuguese-language version of China's Baidu Internet search engine.
"Our relations, which represent a truly strategic partnership, are developing at an unprecedented speed in diverse areas of cooperation," Rousseff said.
Xi said China aims to "strengthen our strategy to create an even more prosperous future for our nations."