BEIJING – The attraction of Chinese investment to El Salvador and cooperation in agricultural matters were the focus of the second day of Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele’s visit to Beijing, where he was received on Tuesday by his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.
A welcome ceremony was held, as is usual during visits by foreign heads of state, in the center of the Chinese political power, the Grand Palace of the People, next to Tiananmen Square, but was held inside the building because of the cold winter weather.
The typical military troops were produced, preceded by the anthems of both countries, after which the meeting between both leaders and their ministers was proceeded.
Salvadoran was represented by ministers of tourism Morena Valdez, agriculture Pablo Anliker, economy Maria Luisa Hayem and deputy foreign minister for development cooperation and economic relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Victor Lagos.
“Although we have very young relations with this great country I am sure that the potential of the future is much greater,” Bukele told Xi, referring to the establishment of diplomatic ties in 2018.
“Despite the fact that a great distance separates us we are neighbors of the same ocean,” he said.
He added that the “potential to have a friend, an ally and a partner with the power China is today in the world can bring many benefits” to the Salvadoran people.
After the meeting between both heads of state the ministers signed a series of agreements including agricultural cooperation, trade, investment and economic cooperation between the two countries, and facilitating travel of Chinese tourists to the Central American country.
An economic and technical cooperation agreement was also signed, in addition to assistance projects for drinking water and sewage in Surf City, Lake Ilopango and El Salvador’s National Library.
Before the reception, Bukele met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and placed a wreath at the Monument to the People’s Heroes in Tiananmen Square.
He also visited the Forbidden City, to the north of the square, on a private tour of the facilities.
Bukele, his wife Gabriela and the couple’s daughter Layla visited a Salvadoran family in Beijing during the first day of the trip.
Bukele’s Chinese tour, which began on Monday, will take him to Shanghai on Thursday and Friday.
The Salvadoran president began a tour of Asia on Thursday last week, with the aim of attracting investment and strengthening relations, in which he also visited Japan, where he met with the country’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday.
After China, the Salvadoran president’s agenda includes a stopover in Qatar.
El Salvador is one of the last former Central American allies of Taiwan that changed diplomatic relations with Taipei for those with Beijing.
In August 2018, San Salvador announced the establishment of diplomatic relations with China and its rupture with Taiwan, joining 177 other countries that have approved Resolution 2758 of the United Nations General Assembly, which recognizes the existence of the “One-China policy.”
The decision to leave Taiwan, a key sponsor of projects in technology, health, agriculture and education, was announced by the then-Salvadoran president Salvador Sanchez Ceren and generated harsh criticism from the main opposition party, the Nationalist Republican Alliance.
It also provoked a reaction from the United States, which called consultations with former ambassador to El Salvador Jean Manes and expressed concern about the advance of Chinese influence in Latin America.
Bukele, who took office on 1 June, said during a press conference on 27 June that diplomatic relations with China were full and described the status of the Asian country as “the second economic power world.”