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Chilean President: ‘The World Is Orienting More than Ever to China’—and That Is Our Future

Nov. 28, 2017 (EIRNS)—In a Nov. 23 speech at the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Confucius Institute at Santiago’s Santo Tomás University, reported by Xinhua, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet gave a moving account of her country’s decades-long relationship with China, and of the importance of Chinese language and culture which the Confucius Institutes promote. Bachelet said that she intends to study Chinese in depth once she leaves the Presidency next March. The Confucius Institute has 19 chapters in Chile alone.

Today, Bachelet said, the world is orienting "more than ever" toward China and the Pacific Basin, and therefore, "we know very well that our relationship with China and the Asia-Pacific in particular is crucial for us to fulfill our destiny." Chile’s relationship with China goes well beyond trade ties, she added. "It is one of our primary political partners on the path to opening, integration and cooperation for progress."

The President recalled how much she enjoyed conversing with China’s president Xi Jinping at every Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, as the alphabetical seating order by country always placed them next to each other.

Presidential candidate Alejandro Guillier, of Bachelet’s New Majority coalition, made clear in a Nov. 27 interview with Xinhua that, should he win in the second round of elections Dec. 17, he will continue and deepen Chile’s ties with China, given that both nations’ fates "are quite tied together.... When China grows, Chile grows. When China grows less, we grow less." China, he said, is "by far our greatest ally."

Chile, he said, must move away from its role as a raw materials exporter and adopt a different "productive model." China can help with that because it is flexible; it will work with countries and create "different ways of associating" with them, to achieve "mutual growth." Not so the United States and Europe, he continued, which "take our raw materials but don’t build enterprises on our territory. We’re interested in being partners." With China, there are no political pressures or conditionalities. Guillier mentioned plans to build a megaport on the coast, and many others, which he says will consolidate Chile as a regional leader, but also improve the economies of all nations in the region. "We see Chile as a great platform for investments, trade, services, but also so that the Asian world can enter Argentina,... Bolivia, Paraguay, or Brazil’s interior and that’s why we’re working on modernizing our ports."