BEIJING – Chilean President Sebastian Piñera began a state visit to China on Wednesday by signing, together with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, an action plan to promote bilateral ties between the two nations.
Piñera arrived in Beijing for an official visit during which he will participate in the second forum of China’s New Silk Road initiative, which he said he was “very enthusiastic” about.
Piñera was received by the Chinese president in the Great Hall of the People in the capital at around 12:30 local time (0430 GMT), according to the president’s office.
The two leaders signed a plan for the period of 2019-2022, which they described as a strategic route to “promote bilateral relations, promote exchange and strengthen strategic coordination on regional and international issues.”
During the meeting with the Chinese leader, Piñera said he intends to strengthen ties on various fronts such as cultural and added that “for us to have a closeness to Chinese culture, is a source of inspiration and learning.”
The roadmap details a total of 14 strategic topics on which to strengthen cooperation, such as politics, economy, trade, energy, agriculture, transport, telecommunications, science and technology or innovation.
An agreement was also signed on trade defense and export protocol for Chilean pears to China, a country to which the Andean nation exported 60% more products from the agricultural, forestry and fishing sectors during 2018.
Piñera also met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Li Zhanshu.
On Thursday, the Chilean president will inaugurate a digital economy and innovation forum, participate in an event to promote Chilean wines, visit the facilities of the Chinese transport company Didi and meet with electromobility companies of the Asian giant.
Piñera, who is accompanied by the first lady, Cecilia Morel, will be invested that same day as an “Honorary Professor” by the Tsinghua University of Beijing.
On Friday, he will participate in the inaugural session of the second forum of the New Silk Roads.
Chile announced its incorporation into the multimillion-dollar Chinese initiative of the New Silk Road, whose official name is Belt and Road, in November.
Piñera will travel to the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen on Saturday, where he will meet with local authorities and visit the facilities of the company BYD, which announced in July 2018 the sale of a hundred electric buses for Santiago’s public transport system From Chile.
There he will also meet with authorities from the province of Canton on Sunday, before continuing the trip to Seoul.
Chile is considered by China to be “an important cooperation partner in Latin America and the Asia-Pacific,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said last week.
He added that Chile was the “first country in the region to sign a Free Trade Agreement with China,” and expressed hope that Piñera’s official visit will “increase and deepen mutual political trust” and “intensify the friendly cooperation” in search of “new fruits” of the “integral strategic association” of both nations.
Bilateral trade exchanges increased by 24 percent during 2018 to $42,791 million, which is a “record” figure, according to data compiled by the Chilean chancellery.
China is the main trading partner of Chile, and exchanges with the Asian country account for 30% of its total foreign trade, with special prominence in mining exports, mainly copper, which reached its historic peak in 2018 after increasing by 30% to $20,016 million.
Both countries will celebrate the 50th anniversary of their official ties next year.