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The Belt and Road connects the economy and history of China and Chile

Wearing a cotton coat, walking down the red carpet of the plane with hands behind the back, this was the scene when the post-85s Chilean President Gabriel Boric arrived in China.

During the state visit and the Belt and Road Forum, Boric visited the cultural and creative exhibition and bought two blind boxes of Bing Dwen Dwen; heading to Tiananmen Square, he laid a wreath at the Monument to People’s Heroes; he visited the Forbidden City, tried to play the guqin, and took photos with the teacher of Beijing embroidery.

“It was indeed very stunning to experience it in person, and I felt very proud. We can learn a lot from this great civilization,” said Boric when climbing the Great Wall and viewing the mountains and rivers of China. He wrote in the guestbook: “On behalf of the Chilean people, it is an honor to visit this Great Wall that represents the peaceful vocation of the Chinese people in history and today symbolizes the encounter between different nations with nature. We respect its history and its future.”

Several short videos went viral on Chinese social media: “The Chilean ‘boss’ who determines the price of cherries picks up a Chinese painting decoration for 100 RMB at the night market of Panjiayuan.” “Chilean President Boric goes on a shopping spree, picking up goods in Panjiayuan stalls! Shopkeeper: Boric is especially good at bargaining!” In the videos, when receiving the Chinese painting decoration, Boric folded his hands together to show gratitude, which is a traditional propriety in ancient China. For this youngest Chilean President, netizens comment that Boric is down-to-earth, handsome and calm, young and capable, pro-people and diligent, and a big boy with a childlike heart.

“Having had enough fun and attracted much attention, could Boric lower the price of cherries a bit?” Boric’s trip to China drew some questions from netizens. Chile is one of the world’s largest exporters of cherries, about 90% of whose exported cherries are sold to the Chinese market. High-quality Chilean cherries are popular among Chinese consumers. “Cherries have improved in the living conditions of our farmers… This is important not only for our economic development but also for our social development.” In an exclusive interview with China.org.cn, Chilean Ambassador to China Mauricio Hurtado commented on the gains that China-Chile economic and trade cooperation has brought to Chile.

In November 2018, China and Chile signed a memorandum of understanding on The Belt and Road cooperation. Through the Belt and Road Initiative, China and Chile have deepened cooperation in the fields of infrastructure construction, energy, and information technology. Meanwhile, on October 17, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China and relevant departments of Chile signed four documents, including the Belt and Road cooperation plan, industrial investment and cooperation, exchanges and cooperation in the field of economic development, and the digital economy. The two sides would strengthen cooperation in key fields such as agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure, minerals and energy, and high technology.

In the joint statement issued by China and Chile on October 17, the two sides reaffirmed to strengthen cooperation in the fields of agriculture, fisheries, Antarctica, and astronomy. “There is a wide space for cooperation between Chile and China and huge potential for future cooperation,” said Boric at the 10th Annual Meeting of the China-Chile Business Council on October 19. 

Data shows that in 2022, the bilateral trade volume reached 67 billion US dollars, of which more than 5.3 billion US dollars worth of Chilean agricultural and sideline products were shipped to China, while more than 3,500 Chinese new energy vehicles had crossed the strait into Chilean families. China has been the largest trading partner of Chile for three consecutive years, while Chile is also China’s third largest trading partner in Latin America.

In the field of history and culture, Salvador Allende, former Chilean President, has attracted the attention of Chinese youth. On the popular video-sharing and streaming platform Bilibili, the video about Allende has gained more than 10 million views, and his dedication to the revolution touches Chinese youth.

Co-presented by GDToday and the School of Journalism and Communication, Jinan University

Author: Ma Baoping,  Wang Ping, Qin Huixuan (Intern), Zeng Xiaotao (Intern), Chen Yulin (Intern)

Photo: Xinhua

Editor: Steven, Rofel, James

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