China accelerates the strategy to expand its influence in Latin America through strategic projects in different sectors. Infrastructure, telecommunications, routes, bridges and lithium are some of them. But Beijing also has another priority: control of the seas and oceans within the framework of the so-called Maritime Silk Road.
It is in this context that the Asian giant wants to land in southern Argentina to build a port in Tierra del Fuego. As he posted TN, there is a first understanding between a Chinese company and the province signed in August of last year and initialed by Governor Gustavo Melella in December.
Also read: A port, US$ 1,250 million investment and a ton of chemicals: the details of China’s agreement with Tierra del Fuego
On Monday, June 5, the project was sent to the provincial legislature, where the ruling party has a majority. The memorandum confirms the intention of Shaanxi Chemical Group to build “a multipurpose port terminal with internal enclosure” and the development of a project to produce almost a ton of chemicals –synthetic ammonia, urea and glyphosate-.
Although it is not written in the understanding that was made public in the last hours, from the province they assure that China seeks to build a port in the city of Río Grande, a historical demand in Tierra del Fuego. But behind the commercial there are different factors that make Beijing so interested to set foot in Argentine Patagonia.
The reasons why China wants to stomp on the Argentine south
consulted by TN, different analysts, diplomats and specialists in geopolitics agreed in their reading: China wants, and needs, to increase its presence in the south of Latin America. Argentina has a strategic advantage due to its direct projection to Antarctica, its continental proximity to the Malvinas Islands and control of the passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
- He Antarctic Continent It is a key territory for its scientific development and for the global value it represents in the context of global climate change. In addition, from 2048 any consultative member of the Antarctic Treaty – China is one of them – may request a review of this agreement that frames the relations between all the countries that have a presence in Antarctica. Having a stable presence near this site is essential.
- Tierra del Fuego is also located in a privileged place for the bioceanic passage. “If the global conflict between the United States and China continues to escalate, there are possible measures that could affect Chinese competitiveness, such as Washington preventing it from passing through the Panama Canal,” said national representative Federico Frigerio. In this hypothetical case, the alternative left for Beijing is precisely to travel through the south of the continent.
- What seems to be a small point at the “end of the world” takes on supreme relevance if any of these variables are taken into account. The same happens for the continental proximity to the Malvinas Islands. Former Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie publicly warned that the United Kingdom is interested in cooperating with China in the southern hemisphere in case they land in the region.
- Overflies in this project the presence of the international fleet in the mile 200 of the Argentine sea. It is a group of jigger boats that are in charge of directly preying on the illex squid or hake. Many of these vessels with Chinas and today are resupplied in the port of Montevideo due to the facilities that Uruguay grants them. Having the possibility of a port in a straight line to the fishing area is strategic.
China’s great project in seas and oceans: the Maritime Silk Road
China’s intention to land in Argentine Patagonia is part of the Asian giant’s strategy to gain influence and presence in different ports around the world. “It’s for your own survival there is no discussion in China that it is a priority to have greater influence in seas and oceans,” he explained to TN Fernando Pedrosa, director of the Asian and Latin American Studies group at the UBA.
The justification for this strategy can be read in a very simple key: “China is a country that does not produce everything it consumes and the vast majority of the things that are vital for the functioning of the country arrive by maritime trade, such as what Argentina sells”, Pedrosa exemplifies in a dialogue for this article, to later add: “In this sense, the control of the seas is a matter of survival, because if someone blocks a passage, they would not receive the minimum necessary to survive”.
“Latin America became a priority for Chinaespecially after having conquered parcels of power, first, in its area of influence in Southeast Asia and, later, in Africa, where it managed to play a leading role, especially in matters of trade, investment and financing of raw materials”, detailed in dialogue with this medium Eduardo Puig de la Bellacasa. international manager of the CEU-CEFAS think tank for America.
Also read: The European Union rethinks its objectives and accelerates its strategy to counter China in Latin America
From this think tank, they published in recent weeks a report that analyzes in depth, precisely, the Chinese advance in the region. Is called “China’s influence in Latin America” and was presented by its authors in Argentina, the United States and other Latin American countries. In it they list the multiple projects that Beijing has been carrying out in recent decades to step harder in the face of the setbacks of Washington and the European Union.
It is these last two actors who are most concerned about the incessant advance of China. Is it too late to reverse this situation? “I believe that it is not too late, there is still time to carry out different policies and that is what the United States and Europe will do,” says the specialist Eduardo Puig. The silent battle is launched and time will pass until the result is known.
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