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China warns Argentina that severing ties would be ‘serious mistake’

President-elect Javier Milei has said he would not have commercial ties with ‘communist’ countries, referencing China and Brazil

Buenos Aires Herald

November 21, 2023

China said on Tuesday that it would be a “serious mistake” if Argentina were to cut ties. The statement comes after far-right libertarian Javier Millei, who has said he will not deal with “communists,” won the presidential election on Sunday.

Argentinian president-elect Javier Milei has criticised China as well as Brazil, which are among his country’s most important trading partners. A few months ago, Milei even likened the Chinese government to an “assassin” and said the people of China were “not free”.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a regular news briefing that the development of relations with Argentina had been showing good momentum and it would be a “serious mistake” for Argentina to cut ties with countries such as China and Brazil.

Milei’s tough talk on China stands in sharp contrast with a vow of cooperation by the outgoing president, Alberto Fernandez, who visited Beijing last month and hailed China as a “true friend” of Argentina.

Fernandez also pledged coordination with China under frameworks such as the G20 and BRICS.

Diana Mondino, an economist tipped to become foreign minister in the Milei administration, said Argentina would not join the BRICS grouping, which includes China and Russia, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency cited her as saying.

Argentina was among six countries invited to become new members of BRICS, a bloc whose members also include Brazil, India and South Africa.

Mondino told RIA Novosti that Argentina would “stop interacting” with the governments of China and Brazil, when asked whether Argentina would encourage exports and imports with those countries.

Mao, asked by reporters about Mondino’s remarks, said: “The two sides have strong economic complementarity and huge potential for cooperation.

“China is willing to continue to work together with Argentina to promote the stability and long-term development of bilateral relations.”

Earlier this month, Mondino said Argentina had no problem trading with Brazil, and as for China, Milei would seek to end opaque state-to-state deals.

“What we are not going to do are secret contracts. Argentina, this government, in the last 20 years, has had multiple secret negotiations,” she said. “That is not normal, and it is what we have said we are not going to do.”

Chinese state media has so far downplayed the China comments of the “fiery” Milei, but warned that Argentina would be the one who could lose out if it were to shut China out of its market.


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