“President Xi Jinping has left a deep impression on me for his vision and wisdom.”
That’s how Sergio Ley Lopez, former Mexican Ambassador to China, described the Chinese President in a recent interview with People’s Daily.
In February 2009, Xi, as then Chinese Vice President, visited Mexico at the invitation of the Mexican government. The visit came a year after the outbreak of the global financial crisis, which had brought severe impacts on the economy and people’s livelihoods globally.
“Through the visit, China hoped to learn the measures of the Mexican government to cope with the crisis, as well as enhance bilateral business communication and drive economic growth of both sides,” recalled Ley Lopez, who now serves as the president of the Business Section for Asia and Oceania of the Mexican Business Council for Foreign Trade, Investment and Technology.
“President Xi delivered a speech at a luncheon hosted by Mexican and Chinese entrepreneurs, which was simple, clear, and inspiring. He was determined and aware of what he wanted to accomplish, and he knew how he should fulfill his responsibility for his country and people,” Ley Lopez said, recalling his first meeting with the Chinese President.
“Besides, he was open, frank, and broadminded. We saw a leader that was studying other countries’ experiences and full of personal charisma,” Ley Lopez added.
In April 2013, then Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto paid a state visit to China and attended the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2013. Ley Lopez, as a business representative, accompanied him on the trip.
“At the opening ceremony of the conference, President Xi stressed that as members of the same global village, we should foster a sense of community of common destiny, follow the trend of the times, keep to the right direction, stick together in a time of difficulty and ensure that development in Asia and the rest of the world reaches new highs,” Ley Lopez said.
As the first Mexican president attending the annual conference of the BFA, Pena Nieto emphasized that emerging economies in Latin America and Asia needed to cooperate with each other. He wanted to learn from China’s experience and seek common development through his visit, Ley Lopez said.
Pena Nieto invited President Xi to visit Mexico during their meeting, and the latter accepted the invitation, Ley Lopez told People’s Daily, adding that to accelerate the development of bilateral relations, it needed to strike while the iron is hot.
In June 2013, President Xi paid a state visit to Mexico. The mutual visits, which were paid in just two months, indicated the importance attached by the two countries on the development of their relations. It was during this visit, China and Mexico lifted their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
“President Xi said friendship is like wine, the older, the better. The friendship between Mexico and China is like old tequila that gets better with age. The two countries share many common interests and responsibilities on major global issues, such as improving global economic governance and improving the reform of the global governance system,” Ley Lopez said.
Shortly after President Xi’s visit to Mexico, the two countries reached a number of framework and cooperation agreements. Though they are separated by the Pacific Ocean, they have further tightened their bond.
In November 2014, Pena Nieto paid another state visit to China upon invitation and attended the 22nd APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting. This time, Ley Lopez was still in the president’s delegation.
When they were posing for pictures by the Yanqi Lake, where the venue for the meeting was, Pena Nieto introduced his delegation to Xi. “When President Xi neared me, he said he remembered and appreciated me. He called me a good friend of China,” Ley Lopez recalled.
“I still remember his friendly eye contact and firm handshake. I’m proud of myself because my efforts to promote Mexico-China friendship and cooperation were recognized,” Ley Lopez said.
The former Mexican Ambassador to China is closely following the development of the Belt and Road Initiative. He believes it has built a bridge of peace, stability, and common development between countries and continents through infrastructure, trade, and investment cooperation.
“The interests to be considered should be the interests of all, which is a brilliant quote once cited by President Xi. In Latin America, there’s also a similar saying that only by benefiting the whole world can an individual country benefit itself. When a head of state is facing the challenges against mankind and seeking solutions from a global perspective, the world will see his broad vision and mind,” Ley Lopez noted.