SANTIAGO, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Chilean President Michelle Bachelet highlighted on Tuesday the important role that China and the Asia-Pacific will play in the geopolitical future of the world.
"We know very well that our relationship with China ... and with the Asia-Pacific ... is crucial. The world is currently turning more than ever toward the Pacific, and we must look in this direction," Bachelet said at an event for the 10th anniversary of the Confucius Institute at Santo Tomas University in Santiago, the capital.
Referring to China as "one of our main political partners on the path of openness, integration and cooperation for progress," Bachelet said "I think we (Chile and China) have moved along a very positive path in recent decades and we must continue moving forward."
Bachelet also went over some of the landmarks of the bilateral relationship, such as Chile being the first South American country to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in 1970, having signed a free-trade agreement (FTA), and the decade of existence of the Confucius Institute.
For Bachelet, the FTA has been key for trade to continue expanding. "Thanks to this FTA, bilateral trade expanded at an average annual pace of 16 percent to reach 31.4 billion U.S. dollars last year," she said.
China and Chile signed a deal on upgrading bilateral FTA on Nov. 11.
Bachelet also highlighted the importance of the Confucius Institute to bilateral ties.
"Throughout these years, it (the Confucius Institute) has made great contributions to the building of cross-Pacific bridges to advance our goal of becoming a connection platform between South America and Asia, a region in which China ... plays a leading role," she said.
Bachelet added that, upon leaving the presidency, she would learn Chinese, "the language in which the big topics of the 21st century will be discussed."
"The Confucius Institute is the main method of diffusing the Chinese culture and language in our country through courses, workshops and cultural activities. I am thinking of registering next year in March," she continued.
The Confucius Institute at Santo Tomas University has trained more than 12,000 students over the past decade in Chinese language and culture.