13:55 GMT +322 November 2018
Listen Live
    China's President Xi Jinping speaks during a meeting at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) in Santiago, Chile, November 22, 2016

    'Qualitative Leap': China, Chile Lift Ties to Strategic Partnership

    © REUTERS / Carlos Vera
    Asia & Pacific
    Get short URL
    1104

    The Chinese and Chilean presidents met in Santiago on November 22 to sign a raft of bilateral accords on mutual understanding between their two countries. Sputnik discussed the issue with Lee Yun-Tso, an Asian-affairs expert at the University of Development in Santiago.

    “China is trying to add more dimension to the free trade agreement it signed with Chile over a decade ago with infrastructure investments and financial services,” Lee Yun-Tso said.

    He mentioned the Chinese-owned Bank of Construction in Chile as the primary source of Beijing’s investments in the Latin American nation.

    “This is a clearing bank, which means that China can conduct all its operations in Latin America using its own currency. This will make it much cheaper because Chinese manufacturers no longer depend on the US dollar,” Dr. Lee explained.

    He added that this was also source of serious concern for the Americans.

    In an interview with Sputnik, Juan Esteban Musalem, who chairs the Chilean-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of Tourism, mentioned the “‘great likelihood” of a free trade zone being established in the Asia-Pacific region.

    “With China having confirmed its desire to stay the course of reforms and openness, chances are high that the creation of a free trade zone in Asia and the Pacific will be discussed, especially in view of the new US president’s position on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,” Musalem said.

    He added that the creation of a free trade zone in the Asia-Pacific region would make China the world’s number one trading power with its GDP reaching $18.5 trillion by 2021.

    Lee Yun-Tso, for his part, likened Beijing’s intention to expand its  ”one belt – one road” project to  ”something like the Marshall Plan without any attempts of forcing it on anyone.”

    “The Chinese model is aimed at modernizing the Great Silk Road of old through cultural and trade cooperation and Latin America plays a key role in this strategy developed and promoted by President Xi Jinping,” Dr. Lee said.

    He described Chile as China’s main sources of copper and the second biggest exporter of fruit after Thailand, addingt that President Xi’s recent visit to Santiago was a “qualitative leap forward” in the field of infrastructure investments and financial services.

    “China has sent a very good signal with its Bank of Construction. Chile can serve as a financial platform for Latin America. This is a sign of [Beijing’s] trust in the political and economic stability Chile has enjoyed the past 30 years.”

    Lee Yun-Tso said that Chile was the first Latin American country after Cuba to recognize the People’s Republic of China, and the first to ink a free trade deal with it.

    ”Chile has often been the first in building up ties with China and, as the Chinese say, ‘the first is always the one to remember,’” Dr. Lee noted.

    Related:

    China, Chile Seek 'Comprehensive Strategic Partnership'
    Tags:
    financial operations, infrastructure investments, clearing bank, trade partnership, Chilean-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bank of Construction in Chile, Juan Musalem, Lee Yun-Tso, Xi Jinping, China, Chile
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik