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Potential of relations needs to be sustained: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2023-11-26 19:18
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Argentine president-elect Javier Milei addresses supporters after winning Argentina's runoff presidential election, in Buenos Aires, Argentina Nov 19, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

He has supposedly vowed to shut down Argentina's central bank and drop the peso, the country's currency, in favor of the US dollar.

He has apparently pledged to drastically downsize the government by cutting entire ministries.

He also made sensational claims on the campaign trail that many anticipate will dramatically disrupt Argentina's foreign policies.

Dubbed by some as "Argentina's Donald Trump", self-claimed anarchy-capitalist Javier Milei won the country's recent presidential election riding a tide of voter anger over the status quo.

Labeling his foreign policy as part of the global "fight against socialists and statists", he has raised eyebrows with comments regarding China, Brazil and Russia, and with his expressed antagonism toward BRICS, despite Argentina being one of the six countries invited to join an enlarged BRICS. While the next Argentine leader's promise to not deal with "socialists" and "communists" has triggered serious concern about his approach to trade partners such as China, which is the second-largest market for Argentine exports.

If such reported statements from the campaign trail do translate into policy after his Dec 10 inauguration, the China-Argentina relationship will no doubt suffer. Especially with the unverified remark by Diana Mondino, who is tipped to be the next foreign minister and who suggested that the new government would "stop interacting" with the governments of China and Brazil. If that were to be the case, it would be a significant break from the current cooperative relations that have been established. During his October visit to China, President Alberto Fernandez called China a "true friend" of his country and pledged bilateral coordination under such frameworks as the G20 and BRICS.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said that "Bilateral relations between China and Argentine have shown sound momentum of growth". Preserving that momentum would be beneficial for both economies. In his congratulatory message to president-elect Milei, President Xi Jinping underscored that, "pragmatic cooperation in various fields has brought tangible benefits to the people of both countries", and vowed to work with Milei to "facilitate our respective country's development and revitalization with win-win cooperation".

It is to be hoped that through their personal exchange of goodwill, the Chinese leader and the next leader of Argentina have in part mitigated any possibility of a substantial disruption of bilateral ties.

"It would be a huge foreign policy mistake for Argentina to cut ties with major countries such as China or Brazil," said the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, affirming that "China stands ready to work with Argentina to keep our relations on a steady course forward."

Many of the challenges facing president-elect Milei are rooted in the economic troubles at home, including one of the highest inflation rates in the world. Healthy economic and trade relations with the world's major economies will be instrumental to his attempt to revitalize his country's economy.

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