Chile’s far-left President Gabriel Boric met with his Chinese counterpart, genocidal dictator Xi Jinping, on Tuesday, pledging to defend Beijing’s false claims over Taiwan and seeking support for his country’s mineral industry.
Boric asserted support for the so-called “One China principle,” which states that the sovereign state of Taiwan does not exist and that it is actually a province of China. In reality, Taiwan operates fully independently from Beijing and has never been governed by a regime there.
“We uphold and will defend in multilateral spaces the principle of ‘One China,’ a premise that has been unreservedly observed by our country throughout the more than 50 years of bilateral relations,” Boric said shortly before the private meeting with Xi. “In addition, we highly value the spirit of collaboration and shared growth in the spirit of building a new world order based on peace and harmony among peoples.”
The encounter between Boric and Xi is their second after convening in Thailand in November. Boric is presently in China as part of a four-day agenda including a leadership role at “Chile Week China,” a series of activities organized to entice Chinese investors. Boric was also invited to give a “master class” at Sichuan University over the weekend in which he urged Chinese youth to keep a “dose of rebellion” – a bit of advice that could lead to death, torture, or disappearance into China’s draconian legal system.
Boric is slated to participate in China’s third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, a gathering of international heads of state to commemorate the tenth anniversary of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), on Tuesday.
The BRI is China’s “debt trap” loan program in which member nations are offered predatory loans by China to be used in infrastructure projects. The loans, often signed under unfavorable terms for the receiving countries, are used to pay Chinese companies to work on key infrastructure projects.
Once the countries find themselves asphyxiated under the unfavorable terms of the loan and unable to pay them back, China is able to seize the projects and/or exert pressure and influence on the countries.
Chile officially joined BRI in 2018 during the government of “center-right” President Sebastián Piñera. Piñera – much like his predecessor, socialist President Michelle Bachelet – allowed China to establish a foothold in Chile. Both countries have maintained a Free Trade Agreement since 2005 that went into effect in 2006.
According to China’s state-run Xinhua news service, Xi described Chile during his meeting with Boric as a “pioneer” in BRI’s “cooperation” between China and Latin America, stressing that both countries should take the signing of BRI as an “opportunity to strengthen the alignment of their development strategies.”
“Chile-China relations are one of the best in the Latin American and Caribbean region,” Xi said. “Chile is the pioneer of the Belt and Road in that region. China attaches great importance to relations with Chile.”
Boric praised the BRI for allegedly “draw[ing] wisdom from Chinese traditional culture that has a history of more than 5,000 years, and is based on the principles of equality and mutual respect.”
“It has become an important platform for mutually beneficial cooperation and an important opportunity for countries around the world to achieve common development,” Boric said. “Chile highly values and will continue to actively participate in the cooperation.”
In an interview given to the Chinese state-owned Global Times on Sunday, Chilean Ambassador to China Mauricio Hurtado said BRI has played an “essential” role in Chile’s economic ties with China, emphasizing that there is “great potential” for further enhancing bilateral cooperation to pursue sustainable economic growth for both nations.
“As these important political gestures by my country’s leaders demonstrate, Chile believes that the BRI plays a fundamental role in our bilateral economic relationship,” Hurtado said. “Likewise, we are convinced that this multilateral initiative plays a fundamental role in facing the current challenges of the global economy in terms of unlocking capital and working toward more sustainable growth.”
“Chile’s vast renewable energy resources and expertise, together with China’s clean energy technologies, can create mutually beneficial partnerships,” he continued.
The meeting between Boric and Xi is the first since Boric presented his ambitious plans to nationalize Chile’s lithium industry in April. Lithium is a critical mineral in the manufacture of electric vehicle (EV) batteries and other “green” energy projects.
Chinese state media denounced the nationalization of Chile’s lithium industry at the time, as it presented an obstacle for the Chinese Communist Party in using Chinese companies to seize control of Chile’s lithium resources.
China has long sought to control Chile’s natural resources, especially Chile’s rich lithium and copper reserves. Chile holds the world’s third-largest lithium reserves.
Despite Boric’s plans to nationalize the lithium trade, Chile has secured a $233-million investment by Chinese company Tsingshan to build a lithium iron phosphate plant in the north of the country by May 2025. In a joint statement, Chile reportedly invited Chinese companies to participate in the South American nation’s lithium industry and green hydrogen projects.
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.