A long-term vision should guide participants at the upcoming second ministerial meeting under the framework of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Forum, according to Chile's ex-ambassador to China Fernando Reyes Matta.
The China-CELAC Forum will offer an opportunity to plan cooperation, not just in the short term, but also for the coming years, Reyes Matta told Xinhua in a recent interview. Chile will host the Jan. 21-22 gathering between China and Latin America's largest bloc.
"I think we have a common expectation for the second ministerial meeting: to do things better, do them more practically, with better political vision and, above all, with the awareness that we are doing them not just for two or three years, but for a longer relationship," said Reyes Matta.
China's global perspective and the confidence it inspires in its partners justify its taking a long-term approach, he said.
"China is inviting us to have an outlook in longer term," said the senior diplomat.
The former ambassador, who is also one of Chile's most prominent experts on China, stressed the significance of the upcoming meeting to Latin America's future.
"I would say the existence of the forum is essential, especially given the role China is playing today in the world, in Latin America, in the global reordering," he said.
He believes Latin America needs to expand its presence in the Chinese market, including strengthening regional integration in the efforts.
The region "needs to learn to speak with one voice with continent countries like China, big countries that are decisive. The region cannot continue to speak only bilaterally with China. It must also discover what its common agenda is," said Reyes Matta.
"It is still unclear how Latin America will learn to speak as a whole with China," he said.
The past three years since January 2015 when the first ministerial meeting under the China-CELAC Forum was held in Beijing have seen positive developments in biregional trade and other areas, he said.
In the meantime, China's interest in the region has boosted the Latin American integration, he added.
"China has played a great role in advancing the Latin American integration a little further, though it's clear that Latin American countries have different social, political and economic projects," said the expert.
"There were some things that were very enthusiastically put in place three years ago that, given the reality of relationships in the region, the lack of integration in Latin America, have made them tough to apply or carry out in a constant or positive way," he added.
Reyes Matta reckons that currently, global warming and the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030 provide a fertile ground for cooperation between China and the Latin America.
This would make it "possible to find an agenda of concrete measures ... from the China-CELAC meeting," he said, presuming cooperation in such sectors as infrastructure, agroindustry and energy.
"I believe a plan of action that is going to result (from the meeting) is going to contain many more things that can be carried out in a multilateral fashion, while others will be precisely bilateral," said Reyes Matta.
One multilateral project set to benefit all parties, improving Latin American ties with China, is the Belt and Road Initiative China proposed to promote global development, he said.
"When you join four routes: maritime, overland, aerial and digital, you would discover that there are many possibilities for interaction between Latin America and China," he said.