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China Daily Website

A new stage of interaction

Updated: 2013-06-06 01:30
By SUN HONGBO ( China Daily)

China and Mexico will work together to safeguard each other's national interests and the interests of developing countries

President Xi Jinping's visit to Mexico shows the new Chinese leadership's support for Mexico's development and their will to expand and deepen cooperation. On Tuesday, Xi and his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Pena Nieto, pledged they will enhance political dialogue on bilateral, regional and global issues so as to consolidate the China-Mexico comprehensive strategic partnership.

Since diplomatic ties were established 40 years ago, bilateral relations have developed rapidly. Confucius said, at 40 one should be free of doubts, and China-Mexico ties have matured and are now robust, featuring mutual respect and mutual benefit. And with Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party returning to power, China-Mexico relations can open a new chapter in their longstanding friendship.

Mexico established diplomatic relations with China in 1972. At the 26th session of the UN General Assembly, seven Latin American and Caribbean countries, including Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba voted that the government of the People's Republic of China was the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations.

In the 1970s and 1980s, China and Mexico cooperated in the international community supporting South-South cooperation in a bid to promote the establishment of a new international political and economic order.

In 2003, the two countries forged a strategic partnership, expanding their friendly exchanges and cooperation in various fields.

Both China and Mexico are emerging economies with increasingly close bilateral economic and trade relations and the two countries' influence on the global governance reform is irreplaceable. China is Mexico's second-largest trading partner, while Mexico is China's second-largest trading partner in Latin America. The two countries should take more political initiative and make pragmatic policy efforts to push relations to a new level.

On issues concerning each other's core national interests, the two countries should enhance mutual understanding and properly handle their differences. And partisan politics in Mexico should not be allowed to have an adverse impact on the bilateral relationship.

What concerns Mexico most is how to narrow the huge trade deficit with China. The trade imbalance is an indisputable fact mainly due to the differences in the two countries' economic structures. To solve the problem, the two sides should adopt a constructive attitude, put more political resources into their economic cooperation mechanism and improve the quality, level and sustainability of their economic and trade cooperation.

Economic and trade cooperation is high on Mexico's agenda and the Mexican business community is eager to gain more market access to China, which is considering expanding imports of Mexico's competitive products, such as agricultural, livestock and fishery products.

The two countries can also expand mutual investment. According to Chinese official statistics, at the end of 2011, China's investment in Mexico was only $264 million, which is less than its investment in some other Latin American countries.

With regard to their economic and trade cooperation mechanism, the two countries can try to set up a China-Mexico cooperation fund to facilitate financing for mutual investment and trade. Mexico has great demand for investment in transportation, agriculture, communication networks and other areas, and China hopes to expand direct investment in Mexico, which will create employment opportunities for local people.

The two sides can also consider starting a feasibility study on building a free trade area. Meanwhile, the Mexican government is actively promoting energy reform and the prospects for energy cooperation are bright.

The two countries should also strengthen consultation and safeguard each other's national interests and the common interests of developing countries in the fields of finance, trade and climate change under the framework of multilateral mechanisms such as the United Nations, the G20, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

They should also expand people-to-people exchanges and strengthen cultural and educational exchanges and contacts. Mexico has the most Confucius Institutes in Latin America and the National Autonomous University of Mexico has set up the Mexican Center in China. Cultural and academic exchanges between China and Mexico are frequent and the two sides may consider expanding the number of exchange students. In addition, the two countries should also strengthen public diplomacy to deliver a real and vivid national image to each other's people.

Finally, relations between the two countries must take into account the United States. Because of the complex and asymmetrical interdependence between Mexico and the US, developing relations with the US is the top priority in Mexico's diplomacy. However, it is definitely not a zero-sum game, and the three countries can explore potential areas for future cooperation.

The author is an associate professor at the Institute of Latin American Studies, affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

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