The relationship with China has opened a world of opportunities for Chile, an expert on Chile-China ties said on Tuesday.

“A new world of opportunities is opening up to us, and we should take advantage of it with a strategy that can contribute to the development of our country, the reduction of the gaps of inequality, and better quality of life for everyone,” Francisco Silva, President of the Chilean chapter of the Chile-China Bilateral Business Council, wrote in a column published Tuesday on Chile’s local newspaper.

“Just as Chilean President (Sebastian) Pinera said in Beijing (last month), a new ‘roadmap’ for the relationship between Chile and China is before us,” Silva said.

On April 24-28, Pinera paid a state visit to China and attended the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.

In the Chilean expert’s view, the Belt and Road Initiative is “the most important (idea) of a century”, given that it will “unite billions of people, boost trade, tourism, growth, and reduce poverty globally.”

For nearly 50 years, the bilateral relations between Chile and China have stayed in an “unbeatable situation,” Silva added.

Chile was the first South American country to establish diplomatic ties with China, and the bilateral ties have long taken a lead among China-Latin America relations.

In 2005, Chile became the first Latin American country to sign a free trade agreement with China, and in 2019, it became the first country in the region to update such an agreement with China.