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Released on 2012-02-29 22:00 GMT

Email-ID 1025951
Date 2011-11-02 01:01:04
This evening I attended a meeting at the Argentine Council on Foreign
Relations (CARI). The meeting was about Argentina-China relations. CARI is
an Argentine think tank that was created by Argentine diplomats, scholars,
private businesses to debate and study ArgentinaA's international

Today, it was CARIA's China group studies headed by a prominent Argentine
ambassador, especially during Nestor KirchenerA's presidency that promoted
a debate about Argentina-China relations. I was really surprised with
this meeting, because I thought the debate about how to deal with China
was going to be similar to some IA've witnessed in Brazil where some
diplomats, scholars, think tanks etca*| have started to re-think BrazilA's
relations with China as the import of Chinese products have started to
increase considerably. This is not what I saw this evening at CARI. Most
of the people at this meeting today are current Argentine diplomats and
they were pretty much saying about how China is card that they can play
against the US and how Argentina needs to start strengthening relations
with China. They said that every time a high rank Chinese military officer
comes to Argentina, the US embassy goes ballistic and the Argentine govt,
of course, loves it. They said that Argentina needs to cooperate with
China in the areas of biotechnology, bio-fuels, telecommunications, and
wind power. They also said that China in terms of defense cooperation has
categorized South America into 3 groups. One group is the one that they
have signed most defense cooperation agreements with, which are: Brazil,
Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. A 2nd group is the one that they sell
weapons: Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia. 3rd one is the one that they have
more navy exchanges, which are the ones on the Pacific Coast: Peru, Chile,
Ecuador, and Colombia. One of CARIA's member who is an Argentine diplomat
said that one of the problems with China is that a lot of Latin American
military officers are being trained in China, but Chinese military
officers do not come to Latin America to spend some time and have some
exchange with Latin American military officers. My feeling is that it
seems that Argentina perceives China in a more positive way than Brazil. I
heard several times during the meeting how China was important for
Argentina to diversify its trade partner and also use it as a card against
the US.

Paulo Gregoire
Latin America Monitor