China’s vertiginous growth in the last 40 years has moved the world. No Latin American country escapes its investments and in Ecuador they are in different economic and social sectors. Today, January 2, 2020, 40 years of relations between the two countries are celebrated.
The numbers show the important advances of the Asian giant. Between 1979 and 2018, China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) went from $ 315,000 million (3.15 billion) to $ 10.7 billion ($ 10.7 trillion) according to World Bank data.
In that same period, China’s foreign sales went from representing 0.48% of world exports to 10.56%, forty years later. And its population grew from 969 million inhabitants to 1,393 million, who are now consumers of the products that everyone makes.
Trade with Latin America has also progressed gradually. The data available at the World Bank (WB) show that of the total exports of the region, only 1.59% was destined for China in 1989. While in 2017 the participation of that destination increased to 10.34%.
Similarly in 1989, imports of Chinese origin in Latin America accounted for only 0.76% of the total, but in 2017, the percentage increased to 18.4%.
China Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said in recent days that trade between his country and Latin America continues to grow. It specifies that from January to November 2019, trade between both parties totaled $ 286,830 million, 1.8% more than in the same period of 2018, with a 0.2% increase in Chinese exports and 3, 4% in imports.
And this boom of the Asian giant has been proportional in Ecuador and that is why the celebration of the four decades of bilateral relations becomes relevant. The oldest data available in the World Bank indicate that Ecuador’s exports to China went from almost 0% in 1991 to 6.91%, twenty-seven years later. Now China is the third most important destination for foreign sales in Ecuador. Shrimp is the first.
The ambassador of Ecuador in China, Carlos Larrea, points out that between 2017 and 2018 the export of this product grew by 433%. From $ 112 million registered in 2017 they went to $ 598 million. In tons the increase was from 16,000 to 97,000. “The shrimp has positioned itself in the Chinese market,” he says.
Other successful products in that economy are bananas, fresh and immortalized roses and cocoa.
On the import side, in 1991 the acquisitions of Ecuador to China represented only 0.07% of the total international purchases. That figure rose to 14% in 2018, according to the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investments of Ecuador. Currently, it is the second country of origin of imports.
The main products purchased from China are cars, machinery, cell phones, computers, clothing, among others.
The trade balance for Ecuador is negative, since it matters much more than it exports. In 2018 it closed at – $ 2,637 million and until September 2019 it was – $ 1,150. Balancing it is the great challenge for the country.
Larrea explains that government entities have been deployed by the most important cities in China to promote both Ecuadorian products and Ecuador’s investment projects.
An important fact in this regard was the participation of Ecuador in the second edition of the International Import Exhibition of
China (CIIE), in November 2019, with a national pavilion. Products such as shrimp, straw hats, chocolates, processed foods and tourist attractions were promoted there.
A privileged relationship
On January 2, 1980, diplomatic relations between Ecuador and China officially entered into force. The South American country observes the principle of “one China”, that is, it recognizes the Beijing Government as unique and legitimate, and the island of Taiwan as an inalienable part of that nation, says the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry.
From 1980 until today, the relations of friendship and cooperation between the two nations have been strengthened to reach the level of integral strategic partnership, a category that only 33 countries in the world possess.
This approach has allowed the execution of large public infrastructure projects such as the Coca Codo Sinclair and Sopladora hydroelectric plants and the Integrated Security Service ECU-911.
The Asian giant is now the eighth country of origin of Ecuador’s direct foreign investment and an important partner of financial, judicial, civil aviation, agriculture, etc. Between 90 and 100 Chinese companies operate in various productive segments such as oil, mining and infrastructure.
China, in addition, was one of the first countries to send first responders and an important humanitarian aid in favor of the victims of the earthquake in April 2016. To date, important civil works are being carried out for the reconstruction in Manabi and Esmeraldas, with the support of Chinese technical cooperation.
Ecuador, part of two emblematic projects of China
China sees Latin America and the Caribbean as a natural extension of its ambitious commercial and infrastructure project known as the “New Silk Road”.
According to the Ministry of Commerce of China, the region is its second largest investment destination abroad. That is why it has signed cooperation documents with 19 Latin American countries.
President Xi Jinping defends this initiative. In his speeches he explained that he seeks to unite China even more with the rest of the continents and “create a high-quality, sustainable, risk-resistant infrastructure at a reasonable and inclusive price that will help countries to fully utilize their resources.”
Ecuador’s accession to this initiative was finalized on December 12, 2018. Both countries signed the Memorandum of Understanding to give way to greater cooperation in the economic-commercial, infrastructure and science and high technology areas.
“China is willing to better align the Strip and Road initiative with Ecuador’s development strategy and actively explore cooperation (…) with a view to jointly promoting the implementation of more win-win cooperation projects,” said the Embassy of China in Ecuador.
Another project promoted by President Xi Jinping is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) founded in 2014. It is a multilateral development bank that provides financing for infrastructure and fosters a free market system in countries Asians
On November 1, 2019, Ecuador became the first Latin American country member of this organization. Foreign Minister José Valencia deposited the instrument of accession of Ecuador to the AIIB on an official visit to the Republic of China.
The agency currently has 75 members.
China promotes its education, culture and tourism
The cooperation of the Asian country does not end economically, but also goes to the field of knowledge.
The Chinese Government awards more than 50 scholarships annually for Ecuadorians to study at their universities. Over 180 training seminars have also been developed in China or Ecuador over the past five years, with an annual average of more than 100 Ecuadorian participants benefited.
Today there are more than 500 young Ecuadorians studying in China. Of them, 350 are fellows of that government.
The Ecuadorian ambassador to China indicates that the most popular academic areas are technical and technology careers, language and international relations.
Tourism is also a fairly developed field, especially since China removed the visa status in January 2015. Ecuadorians can stay in China for up to 30 days without a visa and the Chinese can freely enter Ecuador and stay up to 90 days.
According to data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Asian country, the number of Ecuadorians who visited the eastern nation in 2018 reached 14,300, with an annual growth of 23.8%. While 26,231 Chinese tourists arrived in Ecuador during the same year.
In this way and in all fields, the expectation of Ecuador and China is to continue strengthening bilateral relations and complementing them with policies of openness and inclusion.
How is China?
When people think of China they have many ideas of how it could be to visit this Asian giant . Some are afraid of language, cultural differences, but above all the distances and how difficult it can be to walk in a country where they may not understand anything.
But the truth is that once there everything is easy, walk the streets, go to the shops, take public transport, taste its cuisine. They can do it safely, comfortably and with the help of all its inhabitants who are very friendly and try to help, although sometimes they are not understood.
And it is that China has worked hard to make foreigners feel comfortable, to make their stay more comfortable, to share their traditions and to ensure that foreigners have a different vision than perhaps written in international newspapers, on networks social or what may be seen in the movies.
The cultural and communicational exchange is another edge of the New Silk Road project . That is why from September 16 to 29, 2019, El Diario del Pueblo, under The Best and Road New Network (BRNN), organized the first international seminar of the Media Alliance of La Franja and La Ruta “Media Workshop” , in which 46 journalists from 26 countries participated, including a representative of the Public Media of Ecuador .
In this seminar they took journalists to meet several media outlets, as well as emblematic places such as the Chinese Wall, the Terracotta Warriors, the Silk Culture Museum and the magical town of Xitang, among other things.
Visitors had the opportunity to walk the streets of the cities of Beijing, Xi’an and Hangzhou so they could appreciate the true China .
There they discovered that on the other side of the world everything works orderly and cash is a thing of the past. They pay everything with the cell phone, including bus and subway tickets, shopping in markets and stores, in restaurants, in shopping centers. Just by scanning a code and the payment is ready, and you can even simply pay with your face, so you don’t even have to carry the cell phone in your hand.
The Chinese are interested in maintaining relations with the media of all the countries so that they know the “true China ”, and that was what they showed in the tours to this group of journalists from Latin America and Africa.
They were taken to computer factories and vehicles. They showed them the new trains where they send products to Spain and other European countries, they showed them their cultural wealth and also the milestones they have had in the field of communication. They even took them to the University of China so they know how new journalists are trained.