MONTEVIDEO – Uruguayan and Chinese officials gathered on Monday to celebrate the passage of five years since Beijing launched its Belt and Road Initiative, aimed at increasing global cooperation and economic integration.
China’s ambassador to Uruguay, Wang Gang, inaugurated a photo exhibit in the capitol highlighting the contributions of the South American nation to the project, seen as central to the program of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“During the last five years, the construction of the Belt and Road has advanced from nothing and from a small number of countries, to bear fruits that exceeded our expectations,” the envoy said.
Uruguay is among some 140 countries and international organizations to have signed on to the initiative, Wang said.
Trade between China nations along “the length and breadth” of the Belt and Road totaled $1.1 trillion in 2017, up 17.8 percent from the previous year, according to the diplomat.
“Latin America forms an important and indispensable part of the natural extension of the maritime silk road of the 21st century,” Wang said, hailing Uruguay for being the first nation in South America’s Southern Cone to formally join the Belt and Road.
Uruguay Vice President Lucia Topolansky said that the photo exhibit “represents a milestone” in ties between her country and China, which established diplomatic relations 30 years ago.