China – Latam Conference On Potential Growth While Tensions Grow


Licenciado en Historia y Periodista

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

SANTIAGO – Chile recently hosted the 3rd International China and Latin America Conference. The event highlighted the sustainable economic growth that the Chinese economy can bring to the region. Chile Today was present.

More than 30 expositors from around the world attended the conference, “China and Latin America: Multidisciplinary Approaches,” that took place on April 11, at the headquarters of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLA).

The experts met to follow up on the analysis and discussions that began in 2015 about the relationship between Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and the Asian giant with respect to economics, ecology, foreign policy, diplomacy, geopolitics, gender studies, and other topics. The primary goal was to craft national and regional public policies that contribute to enhancing the region’s role in its relations with China.

The conference also focused on future Chinese investments to LAC that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) could bring, and how they could reflect the commitment China has shown toward sustainability and the fight against climate change, especially after Beijing launched the “Made in China 2025” plan four years ago.

That strategy seeks to move the Chinese economy from an era of quantity to a new era of quality and efficiency in production in order to make China a leader in technology on an international scale, ahead of powers such as Germany, the United States, and Japan.

In this regard, the highest representative of the regional body of the UN, Alicia Bárcena, stressed that the BRI can bring key investments in infrastructure, industry, and services to the region, giving an “economic boost to the LAC, but based on environmental sustainability” driving the “environmental big push” that the ECLA has been recommending to the region.

Bárcena also underscored that Chile is “the best place today” to discuss these issues of friendship, prosperity, and mutual benefit between Latin America, the Caribbean, and China, because the country is going to host APEC 2019 and COP25 on climate change this year.

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The Role Of LAC In The “New Cold War”

Another hot issue from the conference was the role that LAC has to play in the so-called “economic war” between Beijing and Washington in the context of what the former director of Chile’s International Economic Relations Office, Osvaldo Rosales, states is the “Cold War 2.0” between the US-American and Chinese governments over dominating 21st-century technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, and big data. Rosales recommended that the regions stay on the sidelines of this conflict.

The recommendation coincided with Pompeo’s trip to Chile on April 12, when he warned President Piñera about the risk that Huawei infrastructure represents to Chilean citizens. He said if Chile uses “unreliable systems within their network, that will force the United States to make decisions about where we put our information as well.”

Both the Beijing ambassador in Santiago, Xu Bu, and the interior minister, Andrés Chadwick, rejected the warning from Washington’s top diplomat. The first accused  Pompeo of having lost “his mind” and going “too far” by making “baseless accusations against” China, and the second assured that Chile doesn’t need those warnings from the United States, because “we must not offer ourselves to be part of a conflict that we are not part of.”

*Imagen de cabecera propiedad de Chile Today.

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