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Bolivian elected president woos China

Sunday, January 8th 2006 - 20:00 UTC
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Bolivian elected president Evo Morales began Sunday his visit to China declaring himself a great admirer of Mao Zedong and his “proletarian revolution” but also urged Chinese businesses to invest in key sectors of the Bolivian economy, including natural gas and oil.

Morales met with Chinese Executive advisor Tang Jiaxuan and the head of the international department of the Chinese Communist Party, Wang Jiarui, to whom he acknowledged that he had read Mao's biography "since I was a young man" and had "great respect" for China's communist revolution.

Before arriving in Beijing Morales visited Venezuela, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France and could include India and Iran in the tour which also includes South Africa, Brazil and Argentina.

Economic advisor Carlos Villegas who is acting as elected president Morales spokesperson said "Chinese companies have been invited - if they follow Bolivian regulations - to enter into sectors like energy, mining or agriculture".

This Monday Mr. Morales is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Trade Minister Bo Xilai, with whom he will discuss further details of the investment invitation plus addressing a gathering of Chinese businessmen from the energy sector.

Analysts believe China, the world's fourth and fastest growing world economy, could help establish a strategic alliance with the new Bolivian administration that wants countries like China and India to help counterbalance the influence of United States.

Beijing is also interested in Bolivia and its energy resources, with the second largest reserves of natural gas in South America behind Venezuela, thus diversifying fuel supplies for its booming economy.

In 2004 China was the main trade partner of Bolivia outside the Western Hemisphere with sales totalling 107 million US dollars, almost ten times the value of two years before, according to data from the Bolivian Foreign Trade Institute.

However, Villegas rejected the suggestion that Morales was trying to weave together an alliance against U.S. "imperialism," an idea that flourished anew upon the announcement of the Bolivian leader's possible visit to Iran, a member of the so-called "axis of evil" as has been claimed by U.S. President George W. Bush.

"United States is no longer the only axis of economic and military hegemony. Now, a triad dominates the world - the United States, the European Union and Asia - and the only thing we're doing is looking at reality and making contact with the different countries" underlined Villegas.

Asked by reporters whether Morales will visit Iran, Villegas replied that Bolivia "wants to have relations with all countries".

"Decisions are not designed against any country in particular but rather to collect and assemble the necessary conditions for the (new Bolivian) government to be successful".

Mr. Morales is scheduled to take office January 22.

Categories: Mercosur.

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