I argued last month that the world needs a stable China-US relationship. To that, I now add that in the same spirit, all countries including Argentina should hold a constructive relation with China.
Argentina should openly explore its common interests with China and value each other’s strengths as an opportunity. We are living in a multipolar world, and each country should be able to freely choose the best economic and commercial outcome, in open competition and free from any ideological pressure.
It is often said that in foreign policy, facts should prevail when analyzing the attitude of nations and their people. A close analysis of China’s foreign policy reveals a few facts that run contrary to the beliefs of many.
For example, China has specifically supported the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The Chinese government has not recognized the Russian annexation of Crimea and has restricted contact with the occupation authorities. It has also implemented Western-led sanctions, despite its traditional criticism against economic sanctions.
On March 17, 2022, the Chinese ambassador to Ukraine said that China will support Ukraine both economically and politically. China has sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and adhered to the United Nations policy of non-intervention of its members in the internal affairs of any sovereign country.
In December 2013, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping signed a bilateral treaty and published a joint statement, where China reaffirmed that it would provide Ukraine with nuclear security guarantees upon nuclear invasion or threats of invasion.
It is true that things can change, but we should not provoke the changes through accusations or tough ideological stances. Foreign policy issues are not a matter of public opinion. Likewise, fear is not an option when deciding foreign policy. Of course, Argentina historically belongs to the western world and shares its values, and therefore the principles on which the western world is based — the good and the bad — shall be the vectors of its foreign policy.
But the facts are that Russia, not China, has declared war against the rule of law, the values of treaties, the United Nations noninterference principle, and the free press. It has declared this as a matter of foreign policy. China, also an autocracy, has not done so. This is something we should consider and not disregard. Prudence should prevail.
The international order is going through changes unseen in a century, and this is a unique opportunity to make that international order better. To achieve this goal nations should base their foreign policy on the following principles:
- Mutual respect.
- No side will try to challenge the core values of the other.
- Constructive engagement.
- Ability and willingness to cooperate.
- Commitment to resolve disputes.
- Open to compete within the rules of the game.
- Cost-benefit analysis
This is a constructive approach. If we accept the above premises as the guiding path, we should then contemplate what is in the best interest of the Argentine people today, considering that China is still an engine of growth that can cooperate in the development of Argentina’s infrastructure projects, nuclear energy, communications, trade, financing, and many other areas of considerable benefit to its people.
The private sector could play an important role in the relations between the two countries. Private sector in China? Many may ask. The reality is that Chinese private firms currently contribute approximately 60% of China’s GDP, 70% of its innovative capacity, 80% of urban employment, and 90% of new jobs. A commonsense approach is needed. By promoting Chinese trade and investments with Argentina, our country may revitalize its private sector through joint ventures or commercial alliances.