Spotlight: China, Ecuador strategic partnership sees smooth, steady growth

QUITO, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) -- Bilateral ties between China and Ecuador have seen notable growth within the framework of their strategic partnership, and Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to the country will further boost the development of the relations.

At the invitation of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, Peruvian President Pablo Kuczynski and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Xi will pay state visits to the three countries from Nov. 17 to Nov. 23.

During the tour, Xi will also attend the 24th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting from Nov. 19 to Nov. 20 in Peru.

Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Guillaume Long told Xinhua, "It is a historic visit, the first time that a president from China visits us, so we are very excited. They (Correa and Xi) met in China, and now, on Ecuadorian soil. It is an honor for us."

Ecuador "hopes the historic visit by a Chinese president...leads to strengthening strategic ties," Long said, adding that "the ties with China in recent years have been very fruitful, very significant."

Ecuador and China established diplomatic ties in 1980. Since Correa came to power in 2007, the South American country has focused on deepening ties with the Asian country.

Correa's first official trip to Beijing took place in the same year, to bolster cooperation in different fields, from energy, science and technology, to economy, trade and education.

In 2015, on his second visit, Correa and Xi agreed to elevate the ties to the level of strategic partnership, signing 14 bilateral agreements in diverse areas.

"The establishment of strategic partnership precisely reflects the level of China-Ecuador relations and will boost the development of the ties," Xi said at the time. Correa has said the relationship "is at its peak."

Such an assessment was echoed by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, when he met Correa in Quito in October.

Wang said that China and Ecuador, with mutual trust and support, have entered a new stage of development and achieved fruitful results in all fields.

China is willing to further enhance the all-round and in-depth development of bilateral relations, he said.

Long said Xi's trip to Quito next week will further cement the ties.

Katalina Barreiro, an expert on international relations at Ecuador's Institute of Advanced National Studies, said that "traditionally, we have been more familiar with Western powers than Eastern powers, but China is a strategic partner at this historic point in time for Latin America and for Ecuador."

China's presence in Ecuador "is palpable and highly useful," Barreiro told Xinhua, speaking highly of "China's successful cooperation" in the aftermath of the powerful earthquake that devastated towns along Ecuador's northern coast on April 16, killing 673 people.

"The most effective cooperation came from China," said Barreiro, referring to the humanitarian aid, including tents, foldaway beds and water purifiers that China donated for the homeless.

The bilateral ties have been propelled forward not just by the exchanges of high-level visits, but also by mutual respect for the principles of sovereignty and non-intervention in domestic affairs.

Milton Reyes, a professor and researcher of Asia-Pacific affairs at the Latin American Integration Association (Aladi), said the two countries "have shared values on the matter of sovereignty," which allows Ecuador to "make its own decisions."

That has also encouraged Correa's government "to seek to elevate the bilateral ties and explore the potential to expand cooperation, access to financial resources, direct investment and the entry of (Ecuadorian) products into the Chinese market," Reyes said.

[ Editor:yfs001]

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