“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.
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.