“Sichuan, much more than pandas”, says the brochure part of the gift pack given to those attending China (Sichuan) – Chile Promotion Conference, and boy, is it true: the ties between our country and this thriving Chinese province are so close that they merited a state visit by President Gabriel Boric last year and the opening of a Chilean consulate in its capital, Chengdu.

In reciprocity, the governor of Sichuan, Huang Qiang, came to inaugurate the conference with a large trade and cultural delegation, accompanied by the Chinese ambassador to Chile, Niu Qingbao. They were received by Claudia Sanhueza, Undersecretary for Economic Relations, Rodrigo Yáñez, Secretary General of SOFOFA, and Ignacio Fernández, Director of ProChile.

If one were to compare, everything related to China multiplies us, and that is why, faced with the business figures, Chilean businessmen (mostly right-wing) are not requesting sanctions or joining those imposed by the United States and its allies, as might be imagined, but rather markets for the consumption of copper, lithium, salmon and cherries. In case the reader still does not know, in 2023 China was Chile’s main trading partner, the destination of 39% of our exports.

The Patagonia Room of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel was buzzing with Chinese words that probably few Chileans would understand as if it were a verbal tsunami. These are fresh winds, or at least new ones, that are coming to change our “fertile, designated province”. Hopefully, we will not repeat the mistake of remaining a supplier of mineral and vegetable raw materials. We will explore ways and means of moving up the value-added ladder so that the change of buyer does not mean further worsening inequality at home. I am not so sure about that, judging by the air of complacent resignation of the Chileans present, all children of power.
Mineral and natural raw materials as Chile’s main exports
In any case, the Asian power is emphatically displaying its interest in trade, continuing its long tradition while innovating who its partners are.