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A Chinese Businesswoman In Chile: Travails Of Trans-Pacific Prosperity

For Lijuan Wang, starting a business in Chile was rewarding but also challenging, for being Asian, female, and 'working at all hours.'

Chinese restaurant in Santiago, Chile
Chinese restaurant in Santiago, Chile
Lijuan Wang and Lorena Marchant


SANTIAGO — Figures for 2016 from Chile's National Institute of Statistics show that 38% of our country's entrepreneurs are women, which is almost 800,000 people. The Global Entrepreneur Monitor found in turn that of these female entrepreneurs, only 7.2% have consolidated their businesses, with more than 42 months in operation.

The figures indicate that a small portion of less than half of all entrepreneurs in Chile are women with established businesses, which suggests that women in the business world face a range of challenges and difficulties and need considerable courage, effort and constancy, and great tolerance for frustration.

In my case as a Chinese woman, I have had to overcome more barriers due to my cultural background.

Being a "bicultural" citizen eventually worked in my favor.

My first challenges had to do with language, adapting to the surroundings and a cultural shock. Paradoxically I learned to manage a business faster than to speak Spanish, because as soon as I arrived in Chile my family and I opened a Chinese restaurant in Antofagasta, northern Chile. I gradually learned about running a business there.

Even though my lack of knowledge of cultural codes and local customs worked against me at times, and sometimes people looked at me suspiciously because of my traits or people's ignorance vis-a-vis my roots, being a "bicultural" citizen eventually worked in my favor. It allowed me to move easily between China and Chile, making my business profitable and beneficial, especially when it comes to imports

In spite of Chile's increasingly business-friendly environment and its recognition of the positive contribution women make to the job market — and female business owners to job creation — there is still concern regarding different female roles.

In Santiago de Chile — Photo: Dimitry B.

After all do we not face bigger obstacles and challenges when it comes to starting a business? I think that as a society we have not advanced enough here. Personally, economic and business success created problems in my family life, and I went through some complicated times trying to push on without family backing or social understanding.

In China, money is the symbol of success. There is generalized awareness that to get it, you must work hard. Success is the fruit of daily work, effort, perseverance and constant sacrifice, and I am certain my Chinese cultural heritage was a key factor in my progress. Yet my rhythm of work, or the way I "work like a Chinaman" as they typically say in Chile of those who work a lot, created some problems in managing those working with me. I realized I was not sufficiently prepared and lacked all the tools needed to handle that challenge.

In China, money is the symbol of success.

My response to most of the challenges I had to meet on this business path came with my decision to return to university and study law. I realized that the big problems facing a Chinese entrepreneur here were lack of professional training, but also the absence of support networks and my poor understanding of the social and national environments.

I think it essential to be able to count on networks of trust that speak my language and share my cultural codes. That is why I decided to create a blog giving free legal advice and guidance so other compatriots of mine can settle and work better in Chile.

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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