SANTIAGO, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- Economic, political and cultural ties between Latin America and China have grown strongly in the past decade, according to a Chilean expert.
Fernando Reyes Matta, Chile's former ambassador to China and current head of the Latin American China Study Center (CLEC), said a survey of the 2002 to 2012 period "clearly shows China and Latin America are much closer, not only in matters of economy, a strong and defining factor in bilateral relations, but also for reasons related to politics and cultures."
In an interview with Xinhua, Reyes noted that recent official visits had served to deepen the relationship, including Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's swing through the region last June, followed by the visit to Beijing in August of the so-called Troika of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Nations, composed of the foreign ministers of Chile, Cuba and Venezuela.
Wen's tour opened "a new road to political dialogue between China and Latin America that will undoubtedly bear fruit in the future," Reyes said.
According to Reyes, the increased compatibility between Latin America and China lies in a common understanding of the market as an engine of development and equality.
"There is an interrelation between the Chinese model and that of Latin American countries, like Brazil, where the concept of a state able to organize, orient, manage, a market that generates growth and innovation, and a society that has rights and opportunities, form a triangle," he said.
Economic ties had also led countries in the region to increasingly look to China, he said, with the Asian country becoming the first or second largest trading partner for several regional nations.
"In the case of Chile, it (China) is the first (trading partner). At the beginning of the decade it was still not, but toward the end of (that decade), the relationship with the Asian giant has became fundamental," he said.
For Chile, the most important achievement in economic cooperation with China in the past 10 years was the signing of the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries in 2005, Reyes said.
The accord helped boost bilateral trade from 3 billion U.S. dollars in 2002 to 30 billion dollars today, he said.
The region's economic ties with China were at least in part responsible for helping Latin America "withstand the global economic crisis," Reyes said.
Socially and culturally, Reyes noted there was also an interesting link between the Latin American concept of "social cohesion" and the "harmonious society" of China.
"Many articles published in China highlighted the similarities, the proximity between the two concepts," Reyes said.
The CLEC head said similarity was evident in the proposal Chinese President Hu Jintao made to Latin America in 2008 in the white paper on China-Latin America ties.
Reyes said his institution was focusing on the study of ideas related to the true challenges facing Chinese and Latin American societies in the years to come.