The first direct flight connecting the capitals of China and Mexico will be inaugurated later this month, to boost exchanges between the countries and the rest of Latin America.
According to Chinese Ambassador to Mexico Qiu Xiaoqi, Hainan Airlines will fly the new route between the two major developing countries, whose annual bilateral trade exceeds $40 billion.
Qiu spoke about the new route in an interview with China Daily during the ongoing two sessions. Qiu is a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
Currently, China and Mexico - more than 12,000 kilometers apart - have only two direct flights in place, one linking Mexico City with Shanghai and another connecting the Mexican capital with Guangzhou, Guangdong province.
Once the new flights get underway, a total of three air routes will link Mexico with three of the most important cities in China and further strengthen interconnectivity, Qiu said.
The daunting distances between China and Latin American countries - in most cases more than 14,000 km - has resulted in a limited number of direct flights.
Currently, one of the most popular routes for Chinese visitors to Latin America goes from Beijing to Sao Paulo, Brazil, via Madrid, Spain.
Because Mexico City is a major air hub in Latin America, Chinese visitors will be able to reach the capital of virtually every other Latin American country, Qiu said.
Given that around 120 million trips abroad are made annually by Chinese citizens, the ambassador estimated that an increasing number of Chinese travelers will head to Mexico as two-way ties make progress and transportation improves.
China is Mexico's second-largest trading partner, and Mexico is China's second-largest trading partner in Latin America.
Criticism has arisen recently suggesting that China is conducting checkbook diplomacy in Latin America as it develops international partnerships related to the Belt and Road Initiative.
But Qiu said Cold War era thinking and geopolitical angles should not be used to evaluate China's cooperation with other countries. The cooperation is completely open and inclusive and based on mutual benefits and win-win collaboration, Qiu said, adding that third parties are also welcome to be part of the process.
"China-Latin America cooperation does not target nor exclude any third party," Qiu said.
The countries of Latin America are in a key phase of their development, and they need funding, technology and helping hands from abroad, so China and these countries have shared aspirations, Qiu said.
"As I have been working in Latin America for quite a number of years, I can say that China's cooperation and investment are heartfelt and welcomed by the governments and people there," Qiu said.
Such cooperation meets the countries' need for development and improving their domestic economies, Qiu said.