Chinese investment in lithium and copper mining has significantly benefitted Chile’s private sector, but the extent of China’s economic control is seen by many as a clear erosion of Chilean sovereignty. Nowhere is this more true than Chile’s electric grid, of which China now controls about 60% after purchasing domestic firms Chilquinta and General Electricity Company in 2019 and 2020. However, Chile’s newly-elected president, Gabriel Boric, has committed to changing lithium mining practices and the sectors where profits are distributed in Chile’s new yet to be written constitution. He has also called for a pause on new bids for mining contracts, which the outgoing Piñera government sought to increase in an effort to raise lithium production to 400,000 tons per year. With a new constitution in play, it is hard to imagine there will be no shift in Chile’s economic relationship with China. I have written more on this subject here.
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