Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas
China and Latin America

Chile’s Evolving Relationship with China

AQ tracks how the country has managed its ties with Beijing.

This article is adapted from AQ’s special report on the battle over fake news. Click here to learn about other governments’ relationships with China.

IN OFFICE SINCE 2018

Sebastián
Piñera

“Chile has good relations with China and good relations with the U.S. It will hold auctions for 5G technology according to the interests of Chile, without us getting into this fight between the two big superpowers.”
—April 2021, during an interview with the Financial Times

 

“This meeting with the Chinese government’s main public authorities, Chinese businesspeople and innovators is something that is good for my country.”
—April 2019, during a state visit to China

Piñera has continued to deepen Chile’s relationship with top trading partner China, and the countries marked 50 years of diplomatic relations in 2020. In 2021, the Export-Import Bank of China became the third Chinese bank to operate in the country. Chile joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in July 2021 and has been a member of the Belt and Road Initiative since 2018. Chinese firms stayed active in Chile throughout the unrest of late 2019, as Chile is still widely seen as an entry market for China in Latin America. However, there is growing resistance in Chile to recent Chinese activity in the energy sector. In July 2020, for example, Chile opted for a Japanese firm’s bid for a trans-Pacific fiber optic cable, rather than a bid from Huawei. Despite this, diplomatic ties have remained resilient, with two reported phone calls between Piñera and Xi Jinping in 2020 and the opening of a Chilean consulate in Chengdu this year. A June 2020 agreement between Chile’s Pontificia Universidad Católica and Sinovac to test vaccines in Chile led to CoronaVac shipments in early 2021 that helped Chile become a regional vaccination leader.

“Chile has good relations with China and good relations with the U.S. It will hold auctions for 5G technology according to the interests of Chile, without us getting into this fight between the two big superpowers.”
—April 2021, during an interview with the Financial Times

 

“This meeting with the Chinese government’s main public authorities, Chinese businesspeople and innovators is something that is good for my country.”
—April 2019, during a state visit to China

LARGEST TRADE PARTNER
MAJOR CHINESE ECONOMIC ACTIVITY SINCE 2019
$3 billion State Grid bought CGE, the Chilean subsidiary of Spanish company Naturgy
$2.2 billion State Grid bought U.S. firm Sempra Energy’s Chilean business Chilquinta Energía
$922 million China’s Joyvio Agriculture Development Co. acquired Chilean salmon producer Australis Seafoods
$804 million Consortium of CRCC International Investment Co. Ltd. and China Railway
$60 million Sinovac Biotech to build a vaccine production plant in the Santiago region and a research and development center in northern Chile
← BACK

Tags: Chile, China and Latin America, Sebastian Piñera, The Battle Over Fake News
Like what you've read? Subscribe to AQ for more.
Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
Sign up for our free newsletter