by Dang Qi and Cristobal Chavez
SANTIAGO, June 20 (Xinhua) -- Chilean mining magnate Andronico Luksic Craig believes China is on a decisive path to growth that will also help lift his country's economy.
"My father often told me 'when that country awakens, our country will be rich,'" Luksic told Xinhua in a recent interview.
"My father was always convinced that when China took off, Chile's economy would also take off," since copper, a major natural resource in Chile, is vital for industrial development, said Luksic.
The chairman of Quinenco, a holding of the Luksic Group, one of Chile's largest conglomerates, has a long history of doing business in China.
"My father took me to China for the first time in the early 1980s. I was around 30 years old and at the time I knew little about China, but I loved it. I really liked the city, the kind people, the language and the culture in general," said Luksic.
"I think we were the first Latin American group to invest in China back then," Luksic recalled, referring to an investment in a copper plant.
The Luksic Group was founded by Andronico Luksic Abaroa, the family patriarch, in the early 1950s in Antofagasta, a city in Chile's northern desert region.
The group began with mining, mainly copper exploitation, and later expanded into other industries, such as telecommunications, banking, food and beverage, hotels and railroads.
"The differences between my first visits and last visits (to China) are very significant. It's evident that economic opening has been key to the country's development," Luksic said of China's reform and opening-up that began 40 years ago.
Luksic said 2018 marked the 12nd anniversary of the first branch of the Bank of Chile in Beijing.
The branch has enabled Chile maintain a presence in China and brought the two countries closer together in financial and educational cooperation, he said.
The bank has organized an exchange program that sends Chinese students to Chile, and Chilean students to China, said Luksic, who is also on the advisory board of the School of Economy and Management at China's Tsinghua University.
Such exchange programs are essential to building closer ties between the two countries, he said.
Luksic mentioned he became part of an advisory council of international business leaders for the Shanghai mayor's office in 2007.
In 2011, he was voted vice president of the council, which he described as "an honor and an enormous responsibility."
"I really appreciate the confidence this great city has placed in me," he said.
Looking to the future, Luksic said "I think President Xi Jinping is promoting a very interesting process of opening-up in China, and it is important for Latin America and Chile to take part in that."