Chile has long been considered a relatively free market-oriented bastion in South America, with more openness to foreign investment and trade than most countries on the continent. In recent years, though, there have been rising protests from the left against existing economic policies, with concerns raised about inequality and unfairness. Criticism of the role of private ownership and foreign investment in natural resources has been part of this movement, and could threaten China's growing investment in this sector, including lithium. The recent rejection of a proposed new constitution through a national referendum, however, could help alleviate Chinese investors' concerns about a greater Chilean state role in lithium mining, at least for the moment.

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