The Winter Olympics are already a propaganda stunt for China. A brutal regime accused of genocide hosts several thousand of the world’s top athletes while Western corporations lavish hundreds of millions of dollars on television coverage and publicity, seemingly unaware of Xinjiang’s internment camps, which hold more than one million Uyghurs.
It’s a depressing sight. The near-global acceptance of the Games in China is a shameful reminder of the willingness of many across the free world to turn a blind eye to the mass murder and gross inhumanity inflicted by a tyrannical dictatorship.
Behind the scenes at the Beijing Olympics, China’s communist leaders have been busy wielding soft power with several countries keen to boost trade, trade and investment ties with the world’s second-largest economy. One such country is Argentina, a basket case in Latin America, which is crumbling under the weight of $323 billion in public debt, the result of decades of bad governance, corruption and failed economic policies.
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Buenos Aires is rapidly falling into Beijing’s sphere of influence thanks to China’s imperial-style Belt and Road initiative. Like many debtor countries, Argentina is becoming increasingly dependent on China’s largesse and its promises of infrastructure development and much-needed foreign direct investment.
For Chinese Communist Party leaders, Argentina, South America’s second-largest country, is a useful strategic satellite increasingly tied into Beijing’s orbit. It has added value because it is a thorn in the side of a nation that is fast becoming one of China’s biggest adversaries on the world stage: Britain. Hence the joint statement this week in the shadow of the Winter Games by Chinese Premier Xi Xinping and Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, stating that China “reaffirms its support for Argentina’s request for the full exercise of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands”.
The joint demonstration of solidarity between Argentinians and Chinese over the Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory, should worry London. Already Foreign Minister Liz Truss issued a severe rebukecalling on China to respect the Falklands’ sovereignty and warning that “the Falklands are part of the British family and we will defend their right to self-determination”.
This is the correct answer from London. The only language the Chinese Communist Party understands is strength and determination. Beijing will exploit any sign of weakness on this issue. We should expect to see increasingly aggressive Chinese diplomats on the Falklands at the United Nations and in their growing engagement with the 34-member Organization of American States.
The new Beijing-Buenos Aires axis is not only an illustration of China’s growing economic power in Latin America. It is also a ram to attack and undermine the UK in the arena of international organisations. China’s communist leaders recognize that Britain in the age of Brexit is a threat to its interests. Global Britain is by far the strongest opponent in Europe of China’s nefarious ambitions on the world stage. While the European Union and its major powers are content to appease the Chinese dragon, especially on economic issues, the British government is standing up to communist China, from Hong Kong to the South China Sea.
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There is no room for complacency in the UK. Communist China must be recognized for what it is: the enemy of the free world and a ruthless genocidal power that seeks to crush dissent and opposition. The Chinese, seeking to weaken Britain at every opportunity, will focus significant strategic and diplomatic energy in supporting Argentina’s attempts to intimidate and isolate the Falklands.
We should be on our guard. In the years and decades to come, Argentina will intensify its threats against the Falklands and may turn to China for logistical, strategic and even military support. Britain’s defenses must be strong and robust, ensuring that no aggressor will ever again take away the sovereignty, self-determination and freedom of the people of the Falkland Islands.