President Alberto Fernández is fine-tuning his agenda and the committee that will accompany him on his Asian jaunt – ahead lie meetings with Vladimir Putin in Moscow and with Xi Jinping under the framework of the inauguration of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Putin and Xi are two of the biggest political leaders in the world, beyond any doubt, but they are also among the most denounced. Russia’s leader will show up for his meeting with Fernández at one of his worst moments for his international image, on the brink of war with Ukraine (if it has not already happened by then), directly confronting NATO and the United States.
In that context, an upgrade for the “support” of the Argentine government, which values Putin as a partner on health issues and science, will surely be sought by Argentina’s diplomats, commanded by Santiago Cafiero.
“Meetings in these pandemic times are exceptional, thus making the importance which Russia attaches to its relationship with Argentina manifest. I take it for granted that we’re going to have their support within the IMF,” assured Argentina’s Ambassador to Moscow Eduardo Zuain.
The conversations between Fernández and Putin will revolve around the Sputnik V vaccine: Argentina has asked the World Health Organisation to approve the Russian vaccine, a gesture which Moscow should appreciate. Furthermore, Argentina was the first country to apply it and produce it locally with the intention of selling it to neighbours with less access to vaccines. On the economic side they will be holding out the hat and placing on the table a list of possible investments. According to Zuain, Russia has a “positive predisposition” towards “any Argentine request.”
“Russia will examine the possibilities for some financial assistance because it is an economically solid country with everything possible,” they enthuse.
The bases for that dialogue were set last December 7 at a lunch in the Casa Rosada where Alberto Fernández received the authorities of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, business executives and representatives of Russian banks to advance in strategic associations in various sectors.
Xi Jinping has suffered an Olympic boycott by several countries in response to the denunciations by international organisations of human rights violations and abuses against the Uyghurs. The United States is spearheading the diplomatic sanctions, which have been joined by Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki explained that this decision responded to “genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” a northwestern province of China. The Xi Jinping government has cracked down hard against the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, most of them Muslim. Mass arrests and sterilisations have been carried out in the region.
Accusations forcibly silenced by the Xi Jinping government, which heavily censors the local media and social networks to set the limits of the discussion within its own territory. If the government at any time tried to muzzle its critics in order to make the Games a success, today it is defying them.
“Beijing 2022 will not only improve our confidence by making the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation a reality but it will also show a good image of our country, demonstrating its commitment to constructing a community with a future shared with humanity,” said Xi. The Chinese premier is lining up a third term for himself.
In contrast with the image of a repressive régime popularised by the West, China wishes to proclaim the vision of a prosperous nation (as Putin did with the 2018 World Cup) that is safer under Xi, the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.
The presence of Alberto Fernández at the February 4 inauguration of the XXIV Winter Olympics (which will run until February 20 in the capital Beijing and in Zhangjiakou), is thus a wink which seeks not to go unnoticed.
“We have a binational commission regarding commercial issues,” they underline within the Foreign Ministry.
The government’s idea is “a more robust presence” for China in Argentina where the Asian giant already possesses “7.5 percent of the energy grid,” a percentage which the Fernández administration “intends to increase on the basis of cooperation.”
They are due to sign the Conuar (Combustibles Nucleares Argentinos) nuclear fuel agreement together with announcements involving Mendoza’s Pescarmona (Impsa). Conuar and Impsa “are conversing over the maintenance on Chinese soil of nuclear power plants of the Candu type” using non-enriched uranium with heavy water cooling, a technology where Argentina is a global reference.
Xi Jinping recently sent a letter to the president communicating that his country was disposed to “a closer association, funding initiatives of mutual benefit” and “working with Argentina to promote high-quality cooperation.”