by Xinhua writer Wang Jinye
MEXICO CITY, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- In 2017, Latin American economies have shown signs of recovery and growth, thanks to their look-to-the-east approach, or seeking synergy in development plans with China, which has maintained dialogue and trade cooperation with the region despite rising threat of protectionism and isolationism.
An Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report said in 2017 Latin American and Caribbean exports will register a 13-percent increase, thanks to greater shipments to China.
The rise reflects a 30-percent upturn in exports to China amid a recovery in the price of raw materials and growing demand, the report said.
Currently, China is a major trade partner and an important source of investment for Latin America, as many Latin American countries have sought synergy with China in development strategies.
The relatively unitary economic structure of the region and its lagging infrastructure have been improved by the interactions.
The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, which proposes better infrastructure, trade and people-to-people exchanges between Asia, Europe and Africa, has been welcomed by Latin America. The region will be a natural extension of the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, a component of the initiative along with the Silk Road Economic Belt.
In May, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Argentine President Mauricio Macri traveled to China to take part in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.
At the event, Macri said the initiative will boost connectivity between China, Argentina and the rest of the world.
IDB head Luis Alberto Moreno said the initiative will play a key role in promoting China-Latin America cooperation.
Chinese companies have built hydroelectric plants and solar projects, laid down high-voltage transmission lines, and erected highways and bridges.
Trains, vehicles, electric buses, mobile phones and air conditioners manufactured in China, online sales services offered by Chinese firms, as well as everyday products made in China have facilitated daily life in Latin America.
FRIENDS DESPITE DISTANCE
A report by the Pew Research Center in August says that Latin Americans, especially Mexicans, Chileans, Peruvians and Argentinians, see China in a more favorable view.
Based on the principles of equality and mutual benefit, the strategic cooperation between China and Latin America has advanced and is multifaceted.
People-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and Latin America have also seen vigorous development.
Today, there are 39 Confucius Institutes and Confucius classrooms in 20 countries in the region, showcasing Chinese language and culture. Chinese is taught in many schools in Brazil, Chile and Costa Rica.
Latin America's interest in the Chinese language and culture is rising.
Tomas Alcocer Gonzalez is a face of China-Mexico cultural cooperation. The Mexican doctor learned acupuncture in Beijing and since then has been treating patients in Mexico with the branch of low-cost and holistic traditional Chinese medicine for over 30 years.
Argentine artist Martin Mazia has found his calling in Chinese painting and calligraphy, after his first fascinated acquaintance with the art forms more than two decades ago.
Now he gives classes in calligraphy and Chinese painting at the Confucius Institute at the University of Buenos Aires and also in Medellin, Colombia, where he lived for 10 years.
POINTERS FROM CHINESE EXPERIENCE
Latin America is also following the Chinese plan for development.
Javier Miranda, president of the Broad Front party of Uruguay, said the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October indicated the direction of China's development and will exercise a profound influence in Latin America as well as the rest of the world.
Miranda said he saw firsthand the enormous successes gained by the CPC during his visit to China in April.
Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, who also visited China this year, took note of the people-centered policies of the National Congress and China's great achievements in social and economic development and poverty alleviation.
Panama is ready to be an important friend of China in Latin America, he said.