BEIJING, China – Costa Rica’s foreign minister said Friday he sees no conflict between the U.S.’s longstanding ties with Latin America and China’s growing presence in the region.
China’s hosting this week of a forum with 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries highlighted what some see as a rivalry for influence in Washington’s traditional backyard.
However, Manuel Gonzalez said the region’s foreign relations were not exclusive and there was no reason why it couldn’t maintain harmonious ties with both China and the U.S.
“We are talking about a world not as black or white or right or wrong. We should have abandoned such a mindset long ago,” Gonzalez said a news conference marking the end of the two-day forum between China and the Latin American Grouping known as CELAC.
At this week’s forum, which Gonzalez co-chaired, China pledged billions of dollars of investment in regional projects and set a target of almost doubling two-way trade to $500 billion over the next 10 years.
Chinese investment in the region aims to increase to $250 billion over the next five years, including a new $20 billion financing agreement with Venezuela, whose leftist government has been struggling with a financial crisis brought on in part by tumbling oil prices.
Gonzalez recognized the importance of historical ties with the United States, which has traditionally dominated the region’s economies and remains its biggest trading partner.
“We are on the same hemisphere, but that isn’t an obstacle to our development of relations with China,” he said.
China too has been seeking to allay concerns over its hosting of the forum, which was organized in just six months following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s attendance at a regional gathering in Brazil last August. This week’s gathering resulted in the adoption of a five-year outline for inter-regional development, as well as plans to institutionalize the forum, which will next be hosted by Chile in 2018.
“It will not affect or displace our respective co-operation and exchanges with other developing countries or developed countries,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the news conference.