VINA DEL MAR, Chile, March 15 (Xinhua) -- China favored economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region and on a global scale, Yin Hengmin, China's envoy on Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, said on Wednesday.
"China promotes the economic integration of the Asia-Pacific and we also firmly support global integration," Yin said, following a high-level diologue meeting of Asia-Pacific representatives in Chile.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Yin recalled that at last year's summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum held in Lima, Peru, participants agreed to plan the steps needed to reach the next level of integration and free trade.
"I am convinced that in 2019, when Chile hosts the APEC Summit, the meeting is going to inject new strength in promoting the Asia-Pacific free-trade zone," said Yin.
As for the two-day dialogue meeting on Asia-Pacific integration -- which was organized by Latin America's Pacific Alliance trade bloc and attended by envoys from 15 countries -- Yin said, "our presence aims to explore this process of integration with all of the parties present."
As a free trade proponent, China has backed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and spearheaded its own initiatives, such as the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), promoted within APEC, said Yin, the special representative sent by the Chinese government to attend the meeting.
The RCEP covers a 10-nation market of 3.4 billion people, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, plus Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, the six countries that have free trade agreements with the region.
"First, we support the Asia-Pacific free trade zone," said Yin, adding that when Beijing hosted the APEC Summit in 2014, participants "reached many agreements and in the past two years, have made progress."
There is already a free trade agreement with member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Yin said, and "once negotiations have concluded, the RCEP will be the free trade agreement for the area with the largest population in the Asia-Pacific region."
To that end, "China is going to firmly support and promote this process, and we are going to speed up the negotiations so they can conclude as soon as possible, contributing to integration in the region," said Yin.
Regarding Latin America, Yin said, "we are stepping up the arrangements to advance towards binational free trade with the Pacific Alliance, and we have signed free trade agreements with Chile and Peru, and are now studying the viability of another with Colombia."
Established in 2012, the Pacific Alliance, which groups Peru, Mexico, Colombia and Chile, is a regional political and economic integration initiative in Latin America.
"Through these three agreements, we are bolstering integration in the Asia-Pacific region," Yin said.
"China supports Asia-Pacific economic integration, regional economic development and globalization, and it is going to promote cooperation with all governments," Yin stressed.
Envoys from 15 Pacific-rim countries gathered at Chile's seaside resort of Vina del Mar on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the best way forward, following Washington's withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in January.
At the meeting entitled "the High-Level Dialogue on Integration Initiatives in the Asia-Pacific: Challenges and Opportunities", they agreed to pursue free trade amid rising protectionism in parts of the world.