|Spotlight: Xi's visit expected to lift China-Ecuador pragmatic cooperation to higher level|
Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Ecuador is expected to further cement political mutual trust and bring pragmatic cooperation between the two nations to a higher level.
At the invitation of President Rafael Correa, Xi will start his state visit to Ecuador on Wednesday, the first by a Chinese president since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1980.
Experts and officials believe that cooperation between the two countries will be further expanded and upgraded thanks to the visit.
Chinese Ambassador in Quito Wang Yulin said that relations between China and Ecuador are at their best and are poised to get a powerful boost from Xi's state visit.
Since establishing diplomatic ties 36 years ago, the two countries have supported each other at regional and international fora and maintained close cooperation.
"China and Ecuador have become good friends who enjoy sincerity and trust and mutually beneficial cooperation," Wang told Xinhua.
Cooperation in various fields has yielded great success. "Pragmatic economic cooperation between China and Ecuador has produced tangible benefits for the two peoples and has been widely praised by the Ecuadoran side," said Wang.
Trade between the two countries reached 4.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, quadrupling in just 10 years. Bilateral trade has great potential as Ecuadoran products such as bananas, prawns and flowers are favored by Chinese consumers.
Investment and financing cooperation is also growing exponentially.
China is now Ecuador's third-largest trade partner, while Ecuador is China's important energy partner in Latin America, a major destination for Chinese investment as well as a market for contract work.
Chinese investment in Ecuador has exceeded 10 billion dollars. More than 90 Chinese companies now operate in Ecuador, and some have been involved in the country's flagship projects, such as its largest hydropower plant.
Of the eight hydropower stations completed or under construction, seven are built by Chinese firms. The power plants have helped turn the once energy-poor country into an energy exporter.
"Economies of the two countries are highly complementary, making them natural partners for cooperation in the economic field. They have enormous potential for cooperation in such sectors as production capacity, investment and clean energy," said Wang.
During his visit, Xi is set to symbolically inaugurate the Coca Codo Sinclair station, the largest of the hydropower stations, at a ceremony in the capital of Quito.
The station, with an installed capacity of 1,500 megawatts, was built by China's Sinohydro.
"These projects have allowed us to obtain our energy independence, to have one of the most environment-friendly energy sources," President Correa told Xinhua in a recent interview. [ "More than 90 percent of our energy can now come from clean and renewable hydropower, and that is due in part to Chinese cooperation and financing," he added.
Correa hopes China will continue to invest in Ecuador, which has a portfolio of profitable projects in ship-building and steel worth about 40 billion dollars.
Katalina Barreiro, an expert on international relations at Ecuador's Institute of Advanced National Studies, spoke highly of China-Ecuador cooperation.
China's presence in Ecuador "is palpable and highly beneficial," Barreiro told Xinhua.
The most effective cooperation came from China in the wake of the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that devastated towns along Ecuador's northern coast in April, noted Barreiro.
Chinese companies have also developed Ecuador's national emergency response system ECU 911. The public security service system, equipped and built by Chinese companies, played a vital role in the rescue and relief efforts.
As the command and control center, ECU 911 effectively processed a massive amount of information and sent instructions without delay, thus saving numerous lives and preventing further damage.