UN urges Caribbean to work with China in digital revolution

Thursday, October 19, 2017

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SANTIAGO, Chile, (CMC) — The executive secretary of the United Nation's Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Alicia Bárcena has urged the region and China to “advance together” towards the digital revolution and the green economy.

“We must work diligently so that Latin America and the Caribbean, hand in hand with China, advances toward the digital revolution, the green economy and on social policies that are connected to industrial policies in order to create employment and fight inequality,” said Bárcena, speaking on Wednesday at the conclusion of the two-day debates of the First Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)-China High-level Academic Forum, held at ECLAC headquarters in Chile.

The event, which also included the Fourth China-Latin America and the Caribbean Think Tanks Forum, brought together authorities, renowned specialists and international professors who debated the opportunities for cooperation between both sides, ECLAC said.

It said the aim was to contribute to the upcoming CELAC-China Cooperation Plan 2019-2021, which will be discussed during the Second Meeting of CELAC foreign ministers on January 21-22, 2018 in Santiago, Chile.

During her speech at the forum's closing session, Bárcena called on both sides to unite their visions for fostering sustainable development with prosperity for their people.

“Just as President Xi Jinping said when he visited us at ECLAC in November 2016, this is the time to build bridges, not walls; to open markets, not close them; to respect differences and erect a shared house for the generations to come,” Bárcena said.

She noted that Jinping had affirmed that his country is actively fighting corruption and poverty, speaking at the inauguration of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China being held in Beijing on Wednesday.

“That is the same battle that we must wage in our region,” Bárcena said. “If we do not eradicate those afflictions and the culture of privilege, we will not be able to forge a new generation of constructive agreements for our mutual benefit, nor will we be able to work on the provision of global public goods as China has demonstrated with its commitment to fostering peace, equality, multilateralism and financial stability.”

Bárcena said that since both China and Latin America and the Caribbean belong to the “emerging world,” they have very similar problems.

She underscored China's ability to produce big changes in an environment of great uncertainty, “changes that serve as an example to our region.”

“Rather than an era of changes, we are living through a true change of era, with accelerated demographic transformations, the technological revolution (known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution) and the effects of climate change. We are at a very critical moment in time,” adding that China can help establish equilibrium at a global level “by confronting all of these macroeconomic, technological and geopolitical uncertainties and imbalances that we are suffering.

“United, China and Latin America and the Caribbean can be a very important counterweight for tackling these problems,” Bárcena said. “To achieve that, we must be capable of producing a joint work program, similar to the One Belt One Road initiative (launched last May in Beijing).”

The ECLAC executive secretary said China has become Latin America and the Caribbean's second-largest trading partner, following the United States, and noted that China is also an important foreign investor in the region.

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