Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday that his country is interested in extending its partnerships with Ecuador beyond the areas of finance and trade. “We are committed to becoming more involved in building industrial infrastructure and developing technology in Ecuador,” he said.
Wang made the comments following the first of several meetings with Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patiño, in Beijing. Wang and Patiño also said that China would continue to finance and manage six hydrolelectric projects that are currently under construction. According to Patiño, the projects will make Ecuador energy self-sufficient when they are completed by the end of 2016.
Wang said that 91 Chinese companies have established operations in Ecuador, most of them involved in mining, project management and technology development.
Among the topics being discussed between Wang and Patiño, are the possibility that payment for some Chinese goods and services will be transacted in yuan, the Chinese currency. China has approached several Latin American countries about the possibility of doing business in yuan.
The two foreign ministers will also discuss mining agreements between the two countries. China hopes to begin several large-scale gold, silver and copper mining operations, mostly in southern Ecuador, over the next year, although projects face strong indigenous opposition in some areas. Some indigenous leaders warn that “secret deals” are being made with the Chinese to fast-track mining operations, bypassing environmental studies.
Patiño’s visit is a follow-up to President Rafael Correa’s January visit to Beijing, in which he received Chinese commitments for $7 billion in loans to the government of Ecuador.