by Raul Menchaca, Ovidio Acosta
HAVANA, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- Cooperation between China and Latin America enjoys bright prospects, with the former's Belt and Road Initiative opening up new horizons for the latter's development, a renowned Cuban expert on Asian affairs has said.
On the basis of the political, economic, commercial and technological foundations laid over the past 30 years, China-Latin America relations can now enter a new phase, Jose Luis Robaina, a researcher at the Research Center for International Politics in Havana, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Noting that Latin America now depends heavily on exports of primary products, he said the two sides need to boost cooperation in industrial and technological fields.
Additionally, he suggested that Latin America, which groups countries that have different development levels and different government systems, should formulate a medium- or long-term strategy for cooperation with China, which already has a well-established one.
"There are certain created mechanisms which have laid a good foundation for further progress, such as the China-CELAC Forum, since the coordination of positions, interests and plans are of vital importance," he added, referring to the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
Meanwhile, he noted that the Belt and Road Initiative, which was put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, offers Latin America new development opportunities.
He also stressed that although the initiative, aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network linking Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes, is faced with challenges, he is optimistic about its future.
"I think it is possible, and it is also desirable because it creates possibilities for development in Latin America," Robaina said.
As regards Cuba-China relations, he said the two nations have a relationship that is "very good and stable, with a lot of rapport and cooperation."
In terms of technical assistance, China is the country helping Cuba the most, as it is involved in some important projects in the island country, said Robaina, who once worked in the Cuban embassy in Beijing for five years.
Also, Cuban official statistics show that last year, for the first time in more than half a century, China became Cuba's top trading partner in goods.
Chinese products, like buses, cars and home appliances, have a prominent presence in the everyday life of Cubans, said the expert, who studied history in Peking University in the 1960s and has long been an admirer of Asian culture.
Speaking to Xinhua in the run-up to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, he praised Xi's leadership and the achievements China has made over the past five years.
"Since Xi took over the leadership of the Party five years ago, there have been big and positive changes," he said.
He added that the congress, set to open in Beijing on Oct. 18, will lead China to continue with its reform and anti-corruption efforts as well as its foreign policy, which has been "substantially revitalized."
"China has many tasks ahead, because it is already a major player in world politics and economy, and has to act accordingly," he said.