BEIJING – Ecuador is seeking to develop its own satellite using space technology from China and to collaborate with the Asian country in weapons production, Ecuadorian Defense Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said Wednesday in Beijing.
The minister expressed Ecuador’s intent to increase its military presence in China and learn about cyber-security models developed in the Asian country, a step she considers “necessary” to combat the “threat of cyber-warfare.”
Espinosa is visiting China to broaden exchanges in ongoing projects, in fields such as defense, as well as other unexplored fields like the transfer of aeronautical technology and China’s participation in Ecuador’s defense industry.
“Ecuador is not very interested in acquiring a satellite, but in transfer of technology so as to develop national facilities to strengthen our own capabilities,” she told Efe after visiting a military installation in Beijing.
This year, according to Espinosa, several Chinese and Ecuadorian technical teams will make reciprocal visits to begin working on the development of the satellite, the date for which is yet to be finalized.
“In this field, we are already working with some strategic allies like Argentina and Brazil. Now, we see that China can be a great strategic partner in this venture,” the minister explained.
Regarding defense, the Ecuadorian representative is exploring avenues for China’s participation to spur the “rapidly growing industry, in need of strategic allies.”
Espinosa particularly highlighted the case of the public enterprise arms production unit Santa Barbara, in this regard.
“At the moment, we are working on a strategic alliance with Chile and Colombia. Why not do the same with China in weapons production for Ecuador?” she stressed.
She also referred to the public owned shipping industry, where Ecuador is working with Peru, as well as the aeronautics industry which is developing a plane using shared technology with Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina.
“We are in an exploratory phase. We cannot define right now how China might be involved. What is important is that there is a political decision to establish a working strategic alliance that completes this positive relationship between both countries,” the minister emphasized.
With two days remaining to her visit, Espinosa is set to travel on Thursday for Nanjing and Shanghai, where she will visit military academies and meet with several officers from her country that are undergoing training there.
Ecuador plans to increase the number of soldiers training in China from the five in the country at present to at least nine or 10, who will also study in the military academies and institutes of the Asian country.
Similarly, Ecuador also hopes that in the future, Chinese instructors will visit Latin America and get involved in the South American Defense School once the project is established and other member countries approve.
“It is important for our officers to learn Mandarin,” the minister said, adding that the Ecuadorian armed forces are known for being well prepared and participating in foreign missions, while not ruling out collaborating in social development missions in China.