China is currently hosting the Winter Olympic Games, with the world’s eyes watching the competition for another fortnight. But during the sporting bonanza, Beijing has used the time to foster closer ties with countries such as Argentina.
The Latin American country stakes a claim to the British Overseas Territory of the Falkland Islands, over which the UK and the Southern Cone country fought a war in 1982.
China and Beijing, amid the sporting competition, announced an agreement in which they declared their support for Beijing’s ‘One China’ policy and the Argentine claim to the Falkland Islands.
The statement added Argentina should be able to “fully exercise its sovereignty over the Malvinas (Falklands) Islands issue”.
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss swiftly responded: “We completely reject any questions over sovereignty of the Falklands.
“The Falklands are part of the British family and we will defend their right to self-determination.
“China must respect the Falklands’ sovereignty.”
In a comment piece for The Telegraph, Nile Gardiner described China’s investment in cultivating “soft power” influence over nations such as Argentina.
The conservative political commentator wrote: “Buenos Aires is rapidly falling into Beijing’s sphere of influence through China’s imperial-style Belt and Road initiative.”
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The Belt and Road Initiative is a policy pushed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party that aims to foster closer economic and trade ties between Asia and the rest of the world.
Mr Gardiner continued: “Like many debtor nations, Argentina is becoming increasingly dependent upon the largesse of China, and its promises of infrastructure development and much-needed foreign direct investment.
“For China’s Communist Party rulers, Argentina, the second-largest country in South America, is a useful strategic satellite, increasingly tied to the orbit of Beijing.
“It has added value because it is a thorn in the side of a nation that is rapidly becoming one of China’s strongest adversaries on the world stage: Great Britain.”
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“Global Britain is by far the most powerful opponent in Europe of China’s nefarious ambitions on the world stage.”
Mr Gardiner advised: “There is no room for complacency in the UK.
“Communist China must be recognised for what it is – the enemy of the free world, and a ruthless genocidal power that seeks to crush dissent and opposition.
“The Chinese, which seek to weaken Britain at every opportunity, will concentrate significant strategic and diplomatic energy into backing Argentina’s attempts to intimidate and isolate the Falklands.
We should be on our guard. In the coming years and decades, Argentina will ramp up its threats against the Falklands, and may look to China for logistical, strategic and even military support.
“Britain’s defences must be strong and robust, ensuring that no aggressor will ever again take away the sovereignty, self-determination and freedom of the Falkland Islanders.”