One could read that the stars converged in the bilateral relationship with China so that the friendly that the National Team will play with Australia on June 15, in Beijing, coincides with the 70th birthday of the maximum leader, Xi Jinping. A football fan who multiplied the training centers of this sport in his country.
Weeks ago, photos arrived in Buenos Aires of the Argentine ambassador, Sabino Vaca Narvaja, running a dive in the Hainan area, in southeastern China, where he traveled to promote the bilateral relationship, which now returns to the spotlight with the trip of Sergio Massa and Máximo Kirchner to Shanghai and Beijing.
On this link with China there is mainly the idea that there is strong pressure from the United States to prevent the progress of large projects of the Asian power in the country: military, logistical, technological, and even strategic natural resources that challenge US leadership in Latin America.
Alberto Fernández with Xi Jinping at the G20 meeting in Bali last November.
But after numerous consultations by Clarín to diplomats and businessmen who come and go from Argentina to China, the relationship with the Asian giant is held back by bureaucratic and internal issues, local incapacity and lack of financing because the State is bankrupt to face public works of important magnitude.
This is reflected, in fact, for example in the impossibility of reversing a deficit in the balance with China that was growing and is today huge.
This is in a red of US $ 9,400 million dollars (within a bilateral volume of US $ 26,000 million), much more than during the administration of Mauricio Macri and when the embassy in Beijing was in charge of Diego Guelar.
The former Macri ambassador delivered the trade deficit with China at US $ 2.300 billion. That is, with a tendency towards balancing the balance, thanks to the signing of several trade agreements, while investments that did not start with Cristina were held back.
Minister Sergio Massa with the Chinese ambassador to Argentina Zou XiaolAFP
The incredible thing is that Argentina's neighbors like Brazil and Chile have surpluses with China. The first of US $ 35,000 million and the second of US $ 10,000 million. More humbly, Uruguayans also have a positive balance of $1.200 billion. The paradox is that the hyperactive Vaca Narvaja – although more ideologized – also works in the pragmatic line of Guelar.
This newspaper learned that Vaca Narvaja complained strongly to Alberto Fernández of the Foreign Ministry. And that he also did it before the Instituto Patria, which responds to Vice President Cristina Kirchner.
He complained about Foreign Minister Cafiero and especially his secretary of International Economic Relations, Cecilia Todesca, whom he accused of "doing nothing" from a position aimed at increasing trade relations.
He accuses them of being "pro-American." However, behind Cafiero are Alberto Fernández, Minister Sergio Massa and before Martin Guzmán plus the former Secretary of Strategic Affairs, Gustavo Beliz, who stopped major agreements with China.
To clarify what the United States is holding back, there are numerous examples. The United States, this newspaper knows, does not object to the commercial relationship and does not even object to the request for extension and renewal of the swap with China (Massa is asking to renew US $ 5,000 million of the 18,000 million of the exchange of yuan for dollars in trade and also another US $ 3,000 million). And government officials in Buenos Aires and Washington have also let him know that they have no alternative to the desperate situation in Argentina.
Argentine Ambassador to China Sabino Vaca Narvaja plays soccer in Hainan
On Alberto Fernández's trip to Beijing in February 2022, infrastructure investment projects amounting to $13 billion in infrastructure investments were announced. But it was never really clear how they were going to be funded.
Several of them were already in the folder since Cristina Kirchner was in government. For example, the nuclear power plant for US $ 8,000 million. That is one of Washington's objections.
Nor do they want a Chinese presence in the factories in Tierra del Fuego – the Shaanxi Coal Group committed US $ 1,200 million for a project to develop synthetic ammonia and urea - among other products.
The United States does not want a defense industry shared between Argentina and China, although from here the military asked it to help with facts. Hence, Washington talks with the United Kingdom to sell some F16s to Argentina and prevent the Air Force from buying the Chinese JF 17 Thunder manufactured in Pakistan.
And it does not want Chinese presence in the concessions that are made for the dredging of the Waterway, where the State has not yet resolved what to do. The United States does not object to Argentina's 5G tender, but does not want Huawei to get in there.
But the 5G tender in Argentina is not done due to delays of the Government, which does not finish closing with the operators.
The military purchases here are being "kicked" because there is no money and there are not even conditions to meet the favorable financing terms offered by China. For example, in the nuclear power plant, Argentina wanted 100% financing when talking about 85% and 15% local. But now it's not done by the U.S.
The mega entourage that Massa takes on his trip, starting with his ally Máximo Kirchner, must be read more internally than in terms of relations with the second world power. To begin with, they do not take anyone from the Foreign Ministry, something that for a country as protocol as China is strange. Neither Massa nor Máximo forgive Cafiero for campaigning for Daniel Scioli as a candidate to succeed Alberto Fernández.
We will have to see at the end of the trip, if the Chinese are going to bill you for all these comings and goings and delays, for example in what makes the dams in Santa Cruz.
Although Massa met in April with representatives of the China Gezhouba Group, who announced that before June 30 they will disburse US $ 500 million to finance the project to build the dams in Santa Cruz (the Jorge Cepernic and the Néstor Kirchner), in the sector they consider that Argentina is in default since 2020 because the Government stopped paying.
China made two small disbursements to keep the work afloat. But it's not just a financial problem. There are those who argue that they are misplaced from the start, on a geological fault, which brought environmental claims and changes from the original project. To this are added the demands and strikes of the UOCRA, which for the heavy hand that China applies in its labor laws are a reason, to say the least, of disenchantment.