China’s foreign minister said that with Argentina they are “good partners and friends”, but the future of the swap remains uncertain

China’s foreign minister said that with Argentina they are “good partners and friends”, but the future of the swap remains uncertain
China’s foreign minister said that with Argentina they are “good partners and friends”, but the future of the swap remains uncertain

The Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China, Wang Yi, described the relations between his country and Argentina as that of “good friends and good partners” within the framework of the meetings he held with Diana Mondino, in Beijing. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship, who was already in France this Thursday with her agenda to join the country in the Organization of Cooperation for Economic Development (OECD), spent almost five days in the Asian power, from where there were messages left to be given.

Particularly because although the Foreign Ministry considered the minister’s visit to Shanghai and Beijing to be very “successful,” and prepared two statements in which not one of the most conflictive issues that strained the relationship with the libertarians was mentioned, Mondino returned no news on the renewal of the currency exchange between the central banks of China and Argentina known as swap. The officials excused themselves by saying that they will take care of that. “the technical teams”.

Since Milei’s triumph in November 2023, China has frozen 6.5 billion dollars, on the 18 billion dollars in its equivalent in yuan, agreed in currency exchange with said country. In the midst of the great crisis due to the lack of foreign currency, last year the former Minister of Economy and presidential candidate, Sergio Massa, used 5,000 million dollars to cover imports, and this expires in June. Beijing gives no sign of how it will resolve it. And if it is not renewed, Argentina will have to pay them.

Like all administrations of the People’s Republic, the official statements of Mondino’s visit to China were released after the events. They take their time.

The official agency Xinhua reported this Thursday that Foreign Minister Wang, “also a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China” (sic) told his Argentine colleague that his country It was governed by the “principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries, respects the decision made by the Argentine people and wishes Argentina success in its reform.” And he expressed “the conviction that Argentina will overcome the difficulties and find a path of development and revitalization that adjusts to its national conditions.” All of this seemed like a message to the strong presence of the United States here now and its attempt to distance China from Argentina and Latin America.

Xinhua also said, paraphrasing Wang, that his country was willing to “take the opportunity of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Argentina comprehensive strategic partnership this year, to jointly grasp the direction of bilateral relations, inject more certainty into the cooperation of the two parties in various fields, and open new perspectives for the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.”

Foreign Minister Diana Mondino, in China, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi

And he reminded him of the following: “China has always supported Argentina’s efforts to maintain economic and financial stability and is willing to continue providing assistance to the extent of its capabilities” while calling for the need to “deepen” certain exchanges.

In the last few hours, all the official Chinese media talk about Mondino’s visit to China, about which it can also be concluded, as recognized by a high official source, that the government of Javier Milei will have to do more gestures of trust towards Argentina’s second trading partnerwhose government he called “murderer” in his electoral campaign.

This is possibly, they said, in that, to continue talking about the swap, the Minister of Economy Luis Caputo must make a trip to China or Milei himself must make a call to Xi Jinping. It does not seem to have a place in the president’s agenda, for now. Until now, he risked sending a letter to Lula da Silva to propose a meeting and enabled his foreign minister Diana Mondino to put out all the “fires” due to his personalized confrontations – or indifference – towards influential international leaders.

Sources critical of the Argentine government in China assured that there was strong anger among businessmen with Minister Mondino because after a forum was organized in Shanghai, the official decided to hold meetings with the executives bilaterally and did not stay and there was no speech to the full. But to tell the truth, other sources explained that this version was “malicious” and that The chancellor withdrew because Wang gave her a meeting and dinner at a different time than the initial one.

Mondino traveled to China with the president of the Central Bank, Santiago Bausili, with the Secretary of Finance, Pablo Quirno, and of the Foreign Ministry, with the Secretary of International Trade, ambassador Marcelo Cima, and with his head of Communication, also a diplomat Gerardo Diaz Bartolomé. They were joined by the new ambassador to China, Marcelo Suárez Salvia, who is a career diplomat.

In the diary South China Mourning Postthe international voice of the power, Alayssa Chen maintained in harsh terms that Argentine financial officials made it clear that They “urgently seek” three things from Beijing: a postponement of the expiration of the $5 billion swap, a renewal of the suspended $6.5 billion swap line and more Chinese investment, as crucial projects like the Chinese hydroelectric plant in Santa Cruz face funding shortages and libertarian politics. For that matter, the dams are suspended, within the framework of the libertarian government’s stoppage of public works.

“But, for Beijing, this financial reach is at odds with Milei’s show of opposition to China politically, diplomatically, economically and on security issues,” he said.

The official Chinese newspapers highlighted – unlike the Argentine communication – that Milei decided not to be part of the BRICS (the bloc made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to which Alberto Fernández asked to join. They highlighted the discarding of a purchase of Chinese J17 Thunder aircraft and the option for the United States F16 aircraft that will be purchased from Denmark. And they also highlighted as something new and contrary to their Chinese interests the fact that, to promote their plans to access advanced Western military hardware, technology and training, Defense Minister Luis Petri, has just asked NATO to accept Argentina as a global partner.

“Given that Milei’s strategy is to dealign with China, it would make sense for Beijing to tighten the screws by refusing to activate the swap line”said the South China Morning and suggested that the government of that country “could impose strict conditions on its investments in Argentina, including preventing Milei from questioning the presence of China’s space station in Argentina or simply avoiding negative propaganda about China, its system or its leadership. “China’s help in rescuing Argentina from economic turmoil deserves this respect.”

China never applied that policy with Argentina and the swap also provides it with an important presence in a region from which it does not want to leave. On the other hand, this exchange is also linked, as it was during the Alberto Fernández government, to the Argentine negotiation with the IMF.

All in all, Mondino was warmly received in China from where they reported that the minister “highlighted that regardless of the changes in Argentina’s internal political situation, its friendly policy towards China will not change.” And what they said Mondino said, “Argentina adheres to the one-China principle and is willing to continue promoting cooperation in infrastructure construction, trade, investment, finance, tourism, space, Antarctica, oceans and environmental protection in the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Two of the principles that altered tempers in China because Milei questioned them. The visit of the head of the Southern Command of the United States, Laura Richardson, whom Milei received in Ushuaia, describing said country as the natural ally of Argentina, plus the statements of Ambassador Marc Stanley that the deep space study center that Cristina Kirchner granted China a “base” in that country in the province of Neuquén for “military” purposes that profoundly altered the mood in Beijing.

Furthermore, the Chinese ambassador to Argentina, Wang Wei, issued a harsh statement on the issue.

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