China–Mexico relations

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Sino-Mexican relations
Map indicating locations of People's Republic of China and Mexico



Mexico–China relations are foreign relations between the People's Republic of China and the United Mexican States. They were established amidst tensions in 1972, and in recent years have seen an intense export rivalry over the United States market, with the Mexican government having accused the Chinese of impinging on its export territory by flooding the US with cheap goods manufactured in low-wage factories.[1]

The work by the Mexico-based Augustinian Juan González de Mendoza may have been the first book published in Europe (1585) containing (an attempt at a reproduction of) Chinese characters. Here, apparently, Mendoza tries to draw the character 城 ("city").[2]

Sino-Mexican contacts date to the early days of the Spanish Colonial Empire in the Americas and the Philippines. In the 16-17th century, people, goods, and news traveling between China and Spain usually did so through the Philippines (where there was a large Chinese settlement) and (via the Manila galleon trade) Mexico (this is different from the routes of the Portuguese and later Dutch, who sailed from Europe to China around Africa and via the Indian Ocean). The first two galleons loaded with Chinese goods arrived from the Philippines to Acapulco in 1573.[3]

Of particular significance for the trade between the Spanish Colonial Empire and Ming and Qing China were the so-called "Spanish dollars", fine silver coins many of which were minted in Mexico from Mexican silver.[4] Even after Mexican independence, and, later, the Spain's loss of the Philippines, Mexican dollars remained important for China's monetary system. During the late Qing, they became the standard relative to which the silver coins that China's provincial mints started to produce were to be valued.[5]

This historic connection between the two countries is attested by two important early Spanish-language books (soon translated to Europe's other major languages) that were authored by Spanish ecclesiastics stationed in Mexico: Juan González de Mendoza's The history of the great and mighty kingdom of China and the situation thereof (1585) and Juan de Palafox y Mendoza's The History of the Conquest of China by the Tartars (posthumously published in 1670).[6]

In December 1899, Imperial China and Mexico formally established diplomatic relations after signing a Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation between the two nations. In 1904, Mexico opened its first diplomatic mission in Beijing and maintained a diplomatic mission in several cities where it was forced to move during various wars and instability until the mission was finally closed due to the Japanese invasion of China in 1941. In 1942, Mexico re-opened a diplomatic mission in the city of Chongqing and in 1943 diplomatic missions between the two nations were elevated to embassies.[7]

In 1971, Mexico decided to break formal diplomatic relations with the Republic of China after the successful passing of Resolution 2758 at the United Nations recognizing the People's Republic of China as the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations. In February 1972, the People's Republic of China and Mexico established diplomatic relations.[7]

In 2005, Chinese President Hu Jintao came to Mexico promising increased investment in industries like automobile-parts manufacture and mineral exportation. In July 2008, Mexican President Felipe Calderón reciprocated with a visit to Beijing in a bid to improve bilateral trade. Nevertheless, China has focused more on South American commodity producers such as Brazil and Chile to meet this end and fuel its chiefly-export economy. In 2008, Mexico exported just $2 billion worth of goods to China while importing some $34 billion from her, including clothing, electronics and "tourist trinkets".[1]

Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang in Cancun at the North–South Summit in 1981. It was the first visit by a Chinese head of government in Latin America.

2009 swine flu spat[edit]

In 2009, in the wake of fears of a worldwide swine flu pandemic, thought to have started in Mexico, relations between the two countries, hitherto improving steadily, cooled substantially over China's decision to quarantine some seventy Mexican citizens, despite none of them showing symptoms of the virus. The Mexican government responded with outrage and, although China imposed the same measures on four nationals from the US and more than twenty from Canada, dubbed the act discriminatory. Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa used such terms as "unacceptable" and "without foundation", and advised compatriots not to travel to China.[1]

China repudiated the accusations with the defence that its measures were strictly medical. Only one Mexican, a man in Hong Kong, was found to be infected. On May 5, the Chinese government, warning its citizens against travelling to Mexico, sent an aeroplane from Shanghai to collect some 100 of her citizens (mainly tourists, students and businesspersons) from Mexico, where 22 swine flu-related deaths had already occurred, and where the citizens had been hiding in northern hotels for some days waiting for the chance to leave. The Chinese were by no means alone in such measures, however. Reuters described the exodus thus:

Even as Mexico said the flu crisis seemed to be dissipating and prepared to reopen closed businesses, Chinese nationals wearing face masks and loaded with luggage streamed aboard a Chinese-chartered jet that stopped in Mexico City and the northern city of Tijuana.[1]

Despite this, a mutual desire to increase bilateral trade and increase shipping of Mexican raw materials into China suggested that diplomatic tensions would be only temporary. "This should not affect the relationship in the medium-term because we are talking about an overreaction on both sides", said Enrique Dussel, an expert on Mexican-Chinese trade at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City.[8]

But Reuters quoted Dan Erikson, an analyst at the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue as noting that, "Of all the major countries in Latin America, China has the most tense relationship with Mexico. The swine flu crisis has just revealed once again that they haven't built the partnership that both countries say that they want. There is a lot of mutual ignorance and no strategic framework. This just shows there is a lot of work to be done [...]."[8]

Post-2016 United States presidential election[edit]

After the election of Donald Trump, China and Mexico pledged to deepen their diplomatic ties. On December 12, 2016, Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi met with Mexican Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu to discuss improving transportation and trade between their countries.[9]

Tourism and travel[edit]

In 2014, approximately 63,000 Chinese citizens visited Mexico for business and/or tourism.[10] Holders of Hong Kong passports and Macao passports do not need a visa to visit Mexico (mainland Chinese passport holders do require a visa).[11] That same year, Chinese diplomatic offices in Mexico issued over 35,000 visas to Mexican citizens.[12] Travel between China and Mexico is long yet relatively easy. Mexico is the only country in Latin America with direct flights from Mexico City International Airport to Shanghai Pudong International Airport with Aeroméxico.[10]

State visits[edit]

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Chinese President Xi Jinping (and their wives) in Chichen Itza, Mexico during President Xi state visit to the country in June 2013.

Presidential and Premier visits from China to Mexico[13][14]

Presidential visits from Mexico to China


In 2016, two-way trade between both nations amounted to $74.9 billion USD.[15] China is Mexico's fourth biggest export market in 2014 and second biggest import trading partner.[16] Mexico's exports to China amount to $5 billion USD each year while Mexico's imports from China amount to $66 billion USD with a difference of $61 billion USD in China's favor.[15]

Resident diplomatic missions[edit]

Embassy of Mexico in China

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d Reuters 2009.
  2. ^ See footnotes to pp. 121-122 in the annotated 1853 English edition: The history of the great and mighty kingdom of China and the situation thereof
  3. ^ Twitchett 1998, p. 391
  4. ^ Twitchett, Denis C., ed. (1998), The Cambridge History of China: Volume 8, The Ming Dynasty, Part 2; Parts 1368-1644, Cambridge University Press, pp. 407–408, ISBN 0521243335 
  5. ^ Nathan, Andrew James (1976), Peking politics, 1918-1923: factionalism and failure of constitutionalism, Volume 8 of Michigan Studies on China, University of California Press, ISBN 0520027841 
  6. ^ Chen, Min-Sun [Chen Mingsheng] (2003), Mythistory in Sino-Western Contacts. Jesuit Missionaries and the Pillars of Chinese Catholic Religion, Thunder Bay (Ontario): Lakehead University Printing Services, pp. 159–172, ISBN 0-88663-045-2 
  7. ^ a b History of diplomatic relations between Mexico and China (in Spanish)
  8. ^ a b Quoted in Reuters 2009.
  9. ^ "After Trump's win, China and Mexico move to deepen ties". Reuters. December 13, 2016. Retrieved December 13, 2016. 
  10. ^ a b Mexico moves to lure bigger share of China's wealthy tourists
  11. ^ "Instituto Nacional de Migración - Gobierno -". Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  12. ^ "Embajada China ofrece pasaporte a mexicanos". Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  13. ^ "40 años de camino conjunto (in Spanish)". Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  14. ^ "Enrique Peña Nieto emprende gira por China y Australia". 9 November 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  15. ^ a b ["Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-05-09. Retrieved 2016-04-18.  Mexican Ministry of the Economy: China (in Spanish)
  16. ^ "OEC - Mexico (MEX) Exports, Imports, and Trade Partners". Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  17. ^ Embassy of China in Mexico City (in Chinese and Spanish)
  18. ^ Consulate-General of China in Tijuana (in Chinese and Spanish)
  19. ^ "Inicio". Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  20. ^ "Inicio". Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  21. ^ "Inicio". Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  22. ^ "Inicio". Retrieved 14 December 2016.