Beijing, (EFE) – Beijing acknow-ledged its interest in investing in Bolivia’s energy sector on Tuesday, but the government here said that that is “just one part of (our) ambitions” in the South American country.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said in response to a question posed by EFE that Beijing made the offer to have “strong and prestigious” Chinese firms invest in the Bolivian economy to President-elect Evo Morales on his recent visit here and “Morales said he agreed, inviting more companies to come into Bolivia.”
Kong added that at the Monday meeting between Morales and Chinese President Hu Jintao, the Asian giant’s leader offered a four-point proposal to improve bilateral relations, and one of those points was “the strengthening of trade and the economy.”
The Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Beijing is providing economic assistance to Bolivia and although he admitted that the amount “is limited,” he emphasized that China hopes to help “promote friendship and contribute to helping Bolivia overcome its difficulties.”
During his two-day stay in China, Morales called Beijing “a strategic ally” in the new phase being em-barked upon by Bolivia, a country in which two-thirds of the population lives in poverty despite the fact that the nation is rich in natural re-sources.
Morales announced during his presidential campaign his intention to nationalize the natural gas sector, although without eliminating the foreign firms operating therein.
Among the large Chinese firms interested in investing in Bolivia is Shengli, an affiliate of China’s state-run Sinopec – the largest petroleum refinery in Asia - which announced in 2004 that it would invest $1.5 billion in petroleum exploration in Bolivia.
The project was impeded during 2005 because of the country’s political instability, which led to the resignation of then-President Carlos Mesa.
Another Chinese firm desiring to invest in Bolivia is Huanqi, which plans to build a $600 million plant to convert natural gas to liquid fuel, a project that is awaiting approval.