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China woos Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru to advance Belt and Road Initiative

Written by Nikkei Asia Published on   2 mins read

Beijing is pursuing a broader set of partners amid tensions with the US.

Wang Yi, foreign minister of China, met with counterparts from Argentina, Peru and Bolivia in late April, as Beijing intensifies efforts to court Latin American countries through its infrastructure-building Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Wang met with Argentine foreign minister Diana Mondino in Beijing on April 30, the Chinese Foreign Ministry reported. This is the first trip by Argentina’s top diplomat to China since President Javier Milei took office in December.

Wang urged greater aerospace and maritime cooperation and bilateral trade to advance the international BRI. China supports Argentina’s efforts to maintain economic and financial stability, and is willing to continue providing assistance within its capacity, he said.

Amid protracted tensions with the US, China looks to diversify its partners in trade and investment. US President Joe Biden’s administration has raised concern over excess production of electric vehicles in China and is weighing additional trade tariffs.

Milei, who is a libertarian, said during his 2023 campaign that he would not work with communists, signaling that he intended to keep a distance from China. After taking office, he withdrew Argentina’s planned entry into the BRICS club of nations, made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

But Argentina relies heavily on China economically. Around 20% of Argentine imports in 2023 came from China, more than from any other country except neighboring Brazil. China was also Argentina’s third-largest destination for exports.

Mondino told Wang that Argentina’s friendly policy toward China will not change. She signaled an interest in bilateral cooperation on trade and investment, finance, tourism, space, and maritime issues. She also urged greater investment in Argentina by Chinese companies.

In addition to Wang, Mondino spoke with senior officials from China’s National Development and Reform Commission, which steers economic policy, and China’s Ministry of Commerce.

She also met with top executives from Huawei and China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC), encouraging them to invest in Argentina.

China and Argentina must maintain win-win cooperation with an eye on the future, Wang said at a news conference after meeting Mondino.

He said China will pursue an equal and orderly multipolar world in partnership with South American countries.

Wang also met with Bolivian Foreign Minister Celinda Sosa Lunda on April 28 and Peruvian Foreign Minister Javier Gonzalez-Olaechea Franco on April 29 in Beijing. The diplomats discussed cooperation on infrastructure development under the BRI and the digital economy.

This article first appeared on Nikkei Asia. It has been republished here as part of 36Kr’s ongoing partnership with Nikkei.


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