China/Latin America: Chinese funded Bolivian satellite nears completion and its launch date is confirmed

Bolivia's President Morales shakes hands with Wu, a representative of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, in La Paz

Chinese funded Bolivian satellite nears completion and its launch date is confirmed; China donates bridges to rural areas in Colombia; Uruguayan beef exports to China flourish

Bolivia's President Morales shakes hands with Wu, a representative of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, in La Paz

Chinese funded Bolivian satellite nears completion and its launch date is confirmed

The Sino-Bolivian Tupac Katari satellite is 90% complete and will be launched on 20th December 2013, witnessed by a sizeable Bolivian delegation, President Evo Morales announced earlier this week.  The launch will take place from the Jiuquan Space Centre in northwest China.

The Bolivian ambassador to China, Li Dong, invited representatives from the government to attend the launch, though it is as yet unconfirmed whether Morales will join them.

Nonetheless the President has spoken widely about the progress of the project, pointing out the setting up of the satellite’s antennas and predicting that once in operation it will dramatically cut the cost of communications in Bolivia.

Indeed Morales believes that the satellite will have region-wide use, ‘We hope the experts will continue to provide us with guidance, so this satellite can serve to integrate all of South America.’  Additionally, looking to the future, he is optimistic about creating an exploratory satellite to produce data on national territory and resources.

The Tupac-Katari satellite cost $300m to make and is expected to last for 15 years.  It was funded jointly by the Bolivian government and the China Development Bank to expand television, Internet and mobile phone services in Bolivia.

China donates bridges to rural areas in Colombia

The Chinese government has given seven semi-permanent military bridges to Colombia as a goodwill gesture, to be used by the Colombian armed forces to improve accessibility to remote rural areas in the event of natural disaster.

China’s ambassador in Colombia, Wang Xiaoyuan, characterised the gift as a sign of bilateral friendship, ‘We have had a frequent exchange in the military sector.  This donation is one of the materialised actions of that good understanding.’

Colombian Defence Minister, Juan Carlos Pinzon responded with equal enthusiasm, ‘This nation has an admiration for their culture, for their capacity and it is of our interest to strengthen bilateral relations.’

As well as the bridges, which are worth $3m, China has also pledged to give the Colombian army explosion-proof equipment to help detect explosive devices.

Uruguayan beef exports to China flourish

Uruguay’s beef sales to China increased 83.4% in 2013, making the country Uruguay’s biggest market in terms of volume ahead of the EU and NAFTA countries (the U.S., Canada and Mexico).

According to the Uruguayan Association of Intensive Natural Beef Producers (Asociación Uruguaya de Productores de Carne Intensiva Natural – AUPCIN) China accounts for 24.1% total beef exports.

AUPCIN’s executive director, Alvaro Ferres, pointed towards the quality of Uruguayan beef as an explanation for the sharp increase in Chinese imports, ‘Here in Uruguay we have very good cattle, and we focus a lot on the welfare of the animals…all this makes the difference compared with meat from other countries.  I think the proportion of Uruguayan beef going to China will continue to grow, and it will prove to be a very good market for us.’