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Li Concludes Visit to Chile: China Will Finance More of South America’s Bioceanic Corridors

May 26, 2015 (EIRNS)—Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, during his May 24-25 visit to Chile, stated that his government is very interested in investing in the building of bioceanic corridors that would link ports along Chile’s Pacific coast with those on the Atlantic, in Brazil or Argentina. He told President Michelle Bachelet that he would encourage Chinese companies to help construct a rail and highway tunnel under the Andes, between Argentina and Chile, noting that China has a special expertise in tunnel building, particularly in areas of significant seismic activity, characteristic of Chile.

Thus, in addition to financing the transcontinental railroad from Brazil to Peru, further north in the South American continent, China is also prepared to finance other bioceanic routes further south to contribute to the region’s physical integration, and to link up with Asia through the Maritime Silk Road.

Speaking May 25 at the China-Chile Business Forum, President Bachelet confirmed this, saying that

"for Chile, it is important to have China’s support to attain the much-desired physical integration of South America through bioceanic corridors, in order to consolidate Chile’s role as a port and bridge-nation looking toward Asia, from Brazil to the coasts of Chile. We need important infrastructure works, both in the region and in Chile, which create interesting opportunities for Chinese investors."

According to a report in Diario Financiero, Chile’s Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz reported that Bachelet had told Li Keqiang that government officials from Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile had met in Santiago in mid-April and focussed on two desirable bioceanic routes. One would connect Brazil’s state of Matto Grosso with ports in northern Chile, passing through Paraguay and Argentina. A second corridor, known as the Central Bioceanic Corridor, would connect Brazil’s port of Porto Alegre, pass through Argentina, and connect to the Chilean port of Coquimbo, by way of the Agua Negra tunnel. The tunnel alone requires an investment of $1.4 billion, La Segunda reported on Jan. 3 of this year.

In his remarks on the last day of his visit, Li Keqiang focused on China’s desire to aid the industrial development of Chile and South America. In his speech at the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), he emphasized Latin America’s "great potential and growing role in the international concert" of nations. Relations between China and South America and the Caribbean "are at their best moment," he said. La Tercera reports his statement that China has the ability to produce equipment and technology, while Latin America and the Caribbean have a need for expanding the building of infrastructure and modernizing their industries. "Cooperation between both regions can promote win-win development for everyone," he said. "We can take cooperation in infrastructure as the handle to promote cooperation in manufactures, equipment, and industrial investments to energetically develop the economy," Li stressed.