Beijing—Chinese President Xi Jinping reached Ecuador Friday kicking off a state visit to South America, his third visit to Latin America since he took office in 2013.
Besides Ecuador, the week-long tour will also take him to Peru and Chile. In Peru, Xi will attend the 24th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting from Nov. 19 to 20 in the capital city of Lima.
Xi’s Quito trip is the first state visit by a Chinese head of state to Ecuador in 36 years since the two countries forged diplomatic relations in 1980.
In a speech delivered at the airport after arrival, the top Chinese leader said Ecuador is an important country in Latin America, adding that the two nations have enjoyed long-running friendship while recent years have seen substantial development of their bilateral ties and ever enhancing political mutual trust.
He also said that the practical cooperation between the two sides have been fruitful and the two countries have supported each other on international and regional affairs.
Xi believes that this visit will achieve positive results and serve as a new and firm bridge to promote the friendly cooperation between the two countries and to open up brighter prospects for bilateral ties.
In his speech to welcome President Xi at the airport, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa appreciates China’s support for his country’s economic and social development.
He also said the cooperation between the two countries in economy and trade, energy, agriculture, infrastructure construction and finance has been rather fruitful, adding that he believes that Xi’s visit will lift bilateral ties to a new stage.
Ecuador hopes President Xi’s “historic” visit leads to strengthening strategic ties, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Guillaume Long told Xinhua ahead of the visit, adding that “the ties with China in recent years have been very fruitful, very significant.”
Since President Correa came into power in 2007, Ecuador has focused on deepening ties with China. The Ecuadorian president’s first official trip to Beijing took place in the same year of his inauguration, to bolster cooperation with China in different fields, from energy, science and technology, to economy, trade and education.
In 2015, during his second China visit, Correa and Xi agreed to elevate bilateral ties to the level of a strategic partnership.
“China views and grows its relations with Ecuador from a strategic and long-term perspective,” President Xi said in a signed article on Ecuador’s leading newspaper El Telegrafo on Wednesday, one day before his visit.
Despite the long distance, China has become Ecuador’s third largest trading partner, with two-way trade reaching 4.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, quadrupling in just 10 years. And Ecuador is now a major destination for Chinese investment and financing in Latin America. Chinese investment and financing in Ecuador has exceeded 10 billion dollars, supporting hundreds of projects including major infrastructure projects such as the Coca Codo Sinclair hydropower plant, seven other hydropower plants and a dozen of highways.
“I look forward to having in-depth exchanges with President Correa and friends from various sectors of Ecuador to take China-Ecuador relations to a new height,” Xi said in the article.