by Pan Guojun, Hou Xiwen
BOGOTA, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said one of the main goals of his upcoming visit to China is to demonstrate the two countries are important partners.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua ahead of the May 8-12 trip, his first as president, Santos said he hopes Colombia could expand cooperation with China in all fields and become an "important ally" of China.
"Colombia wants to be an increasingly better and closer friend of China," he told Xinhua at the presidential office in Bogota, Colombia's capital.
He said he hopes the bilateral ties, which have been progressing steadily since the two countries established diplomatic ties 32 years ago, will be strengthened during his visit.
Santos said Colombia attaches importance to developing friendly ties with China in a bid to establish a "much closer framework of cooperation between the two countries."
Once such a framework is established, he said, it can be expanded throughout Asia and Latin America, two continents that should join forces to have greater influence on the world stage.
"I think we can, in an increasingly globalized world, work together in many areas," Santos said.
He also said he admires the economic achievements made by China since the country adopted the reform and opening-up policy in the late 1970s.
For Colombia, he said, China is a very important market that has huge consumption potential due to its big population.
Santos said he hopes his visit will help Colombia gain access to the huge Chinese market.
The Colombian president also expressed hope that his visit will attract more Chinese companies to his country once he reveals the numerous investment opportunities in Colombia.
"We have a lot of what China needs," Santos said, naming energy, food production capacity, water and tropical forests.
Meanwhile, "China has a lot of what we need," he said, citing investment capacity and technology.
"We complement each other a lot," he said.
In 2011, trade between the two countries reached 8.2 billion dollars, making China Colombia's second-largest trading partner after the United States.
Santos also noted that the series of culture cooperative agreements signed between Colombia and China during the recent visit of Li Changchun, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, is another step forward in strengthening cultural exchanges between the two sides.
Also, Santos talked about Colombia's economy, describing the country's economic performance as "very good." He said inflation is at a historic low.
He said the country's economy grew by 6 percent last year, while the unemployment rate has decreased and more than 1.5 million jobs have been created since he took office in August 2010.
Santos also expressed concern over the world financial crisis that has affected Europe and the United States, pointing out that Colombia and China will benefit from a strengthened bilateral cooperation, which will help the global economic recovery.
He said he has high hopes for his upcoming visit, as "China ... is a wonderful country with a great future."
During his five-day visit, Santos will meet with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao and other top officials and business leaders.
Santos will be accompanied by several cabinet members, including Foreign Relations Minister Maria Angela Holguin. He will also visit Singapore.
China, Colombia vow to boost cooperation
BOGOTA, April 23 (Xinhua) -- China and Colombia on Monday vowed to improve bilateral cooperation and strengthen coordination in global issues.
"Both China and Colombia are developing countries. We would like to work together with Colombia and treat our bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective," Li Changchun, a senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC), said at a meeting with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. Full story