China's Minister of Science and Tecnology, Wan Gang (3-L), watches a model of train, accompanied by Ecuador's Vice President, Jorge Glas (2-R-Front) and the secretary general of Union of South American Nations (UNASUR, for its acronym in Spanish), Ernesto Samper (2-L), during the opening ceremony of the Exhibition of Achievements in the field of Science, Tecnology and Innovation of China, during the I Forum of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC, for its acronym in Spanish) and China on Science, Tecnology and Innovation, at the venue of UNASUR, in the town of Mitad del Mundo, 15km from Quito, capital of Ecuador, on Sept. 16, 2015. (Xinhua/Hao Yunfu)

HAVANA, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- Cooperation between China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) can help the region's transition from being producers of raw materials to makers of value-added goods, Ecuadoran Vice President Jorge Glas told Xinhua on Wednesday.

Despite the geographical distance between them, China and Latin America share a solid foundation for cooperation, Glas told Cuban news agency Prensa Latina in Beijing, where he was attending the First Forum of China-CELAC Political Parties.

Glas, whose country holds the rotating presidency of CELAC, said that sitting down together to discuss issues in various fields is essential to strengthening cooperation between China and the 33-member bloc.

One of the great challenges facing Latin America, said Glas, is making the transition from relying heavily on raw materials exports to more technology and innovation-driven growth.

Photo taken on Sept. 22, 2012 shows staff members working at the facilities of Integrated National Center of Security Ecu 911 in Samborondon municipality, near the city of Santiago de Guayaquil, Ecuador. On Feb. 6, 2012. (Xinhua/Shi Sisi)

By embracing technology and innovation, "in time we stop being primary workers and become value generators," said Glas, adding that Ecuador has been creating conditions to develop human talent.

"Without doubt, the relationship we (Ecuador) have built with China is a model for the region," said Glas, "We have succeeded in obtaining technical, economic and financial cooperation in infrastructure development and the energy sector, which have generated very positive results."

One of those bilateral cooperation projects is about to go online. The country's largest hydropower plant is set to begin producing electricity as part of a sustainable development plan.

"We are going to produce more, pollute less," said Glas.

Employees work in one of the tunnels of the Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric project, in El Chaco, Napo province, Ecuador, April 7, 2015. (Xinhua/Str)

"We have seen the damage from our economies' reliance on raw materials whose prices we Latin Americans don't set. This traditional dependency on raw materials is a challenge for the region's economic development. We must switch to innovation, to a knowledge-based economy," Glas added.

Glas said the key is closer cooperation both within the region and with China, as the Asian country has shown strong interest in strengthening bilateral ties with all CELAC members.