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Latin America: from 'backyard' to development vanguard

2014-07-17 17:03 Xinhua Web Editor: Mo Hong'e

Ever since the 1823 declaration of the Monroe Doctrine, US politicians habitually refer to all countries south of the Rio Grande as "America's backyard." [Special coverage]

Latin Americans frown at the tag. Language wonks point at the fact that although in the United States "backyard" has a friendly connotation, in Spanish America it means "corral," the part of a house for keeping chickens and planting banana trees.

The treachery of translation aside, the term has also become obsolete in its intended sense. As US Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged in November -- half a year after he had stirred up strong protest in Latin America by citing the analogy, the era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.

As a matter of fact, Kerry's statement was just a belated recognition of an already profoundly changed regional landscape. Latin American countries have outgrown the so-called US sphere of influence and become equal players on the world stage.

In parallel, the 33 countries -- rich in resources, adamant on development and committed to integration -- have embarked upon a path of steady growth and global cooperation that promises a Latin American century.

It is under such paradigm-shifting circumstances that China-Latin America relations have been galloping forward on the fast track. The two-way trade reached a record high of 261.57 billion US dollars in 2013, and UN figures show that China will overtake the European Union as the region's second largest trading partner in 2016.

That should cause no surprise. Win-win cooperation is booming between the world's largest developing country and the increasingly dynamic emerging-market region because it accords with the needs and aspirations of both sides.

More importantly, that is no ground for complacency. The two sides have only picked up the low-hanging fruit, and much more is waiting for them to harvest by cooperating more broadly, deeply and creatively.

For starters, China and Latin American countries are yet to give full play to their complementary economic advantages. China's deep coffers and advanced technology and Latin America's enormous wealth of natural resources are still in need of the right recipe for them to unleash their full potential.

Meanwhile, the two sides should close ranks more tightly in the building of an equitable world order as well as in the battles against climate change and other global challenges.

In order to better promote China-Latin America cooperation, it is advisable that dialogue and cooperation mechanisms be established between China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States as soon as possible.

China's sincerity is genuine and its commitment steadfast, as can be demonstrated by the facts that Beijing firmly supports the integration of Latin American and Caribbean countries and that Chinese President Xi Jinping is paying his second visit to the region since taking office in March last year.

So Xi's upcoming meeting with Latin American leaders is worth looking forward to. It presents a great opportunity for the two sides to further cement mutual understanding and trust and chart the course for future cooperation.

For Latin America, the summit has an extra layer of meaning: It will infuse fresh vigor into its historic transformation from the "backyard" of the United States to a vanguard in global development.

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