The Growing Chinese Economic Presence in Chile: Opinions Among the Chilean Elite

Autores: Borquez, A., Muñoz, F., & Leiva, D. (2023)

Due to its economic and political implications, the growth of Chinese investment in Chile has generated wide interest among domestic elites. Despite being Chile’s main trading partner, until 2016 direct Chinese investment in the country had been almost non-existent. Its growth since then raises questions about how Chileans perceive China. This paper seeks to examine how Chilean elites characterize and evaluate the increasing presence in the country of Chinese capital. It argues that different categories of local elites (economic, political and academic) have opposing views on the matter. To test this hypothesis, a qualitative study of elite opinion was conducted in which the characteristics and the explanatory depth of elites’ perception of China were analyzed. Overall, it is apparent that the Chilean elite has a positive perception of China. It seems that a consensus has emerged amongst stakeholders that the Asian nation represents a good opportunity for the Chilean economy. However, when the analysis focuses on different categories of domestic elites, nuances are observed and there is an evident lack of unanimity regarding the Chinese presence in the country. The results suggest that domestic stakeholders blame each other for the absence of a strategy towards a nation that is increasingly relevant in domestic politics.


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