Argentina’s Acquisitions and Agreements Could Alter their Relations with Britain
By admin February 18, 2015

Fighter jets

In April 1982, a brief undeclared war commenced between Argentina and Britain over the Falkland Islands (known as the Malvinas in Argentina).The Falkland War stemmed from both nations claiming the Falkland Islands as their territory and resulted in over 900 casualties. The war ended in June of the same year after the British liberated the islands’ capital and Argentine forces surrendered. Since the war ended, Argentina continued to express their interests in reclaiming the islands but their recent acquisitions and agreements with China have produced fear that Argentina is not only willing but now also capable of successfully claiming the Falkland Islands.

In October 2014, Argentina and China signed a memorandum of understanding by the Argentine-Chinese Joint Committee on Co-operation in the Field of Defense Technology and Industry. Following the signing of the memorandum of understanding, the Argentine government allegedly accepted a Chinese offer for a new class of offshore patrol vessels known as the Malvinas class, which holds significance because Malvinas is the Argentine name for the Falkland Islands. In early February of this year, the Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner signed agreements with China to increase military co-operation, including construction of new icebreakers, mobile hospitals, and warships for the Argentine Navy. Argentina has also purchased 20 Chinese fighter jets, Beijing will be supplying around 20 FC-1/JF-17 ‘Thunder’ fighter jets, which have the capability of carrying a range of weapons including air-to-air missiles, and laser guided bombs.

The cooperation between China and Argentina is not farfetched, as China has conveyed its support for Argentina’s continued claims over the islands since the beginning of the Falklands War. China has actively supported Argentina in this conflict because Beijing compares Argentina’s claim to its claim over Taiwan. China’s willingness to accept commodity payments to finance initial loans that fund military sales has also played a role in its military sales success in Argentina. This agreement between China and Argentina may have a major impact on Argentina’s long-standing effort to restore their military capabilities and China’s 15-year endeavor to expand its military influence and market share in Latin America.

In response to Argentina’s recent acquisitions and agreements, there have been reports of an increased amount of British troops being sent to the Falkland Islands, approximately 1,000 soldiers will be sent over by November 2015. The islands currently have a core British military presence of 1,200 troops, four Typhoon fighter jets, and artillery which has been sufficient for many years. However, Britain increasing their military presence shows that Argentina’s acquisition of the new military equipment has heightened Britain’s fear that the country may try to reclaim the islands once again, which would remove Britain from a strategic location within the South America region that they do not have anywhere else on the continent. This could, therefore, lead to heightened tensions once again between Argentina and Britain but would include China as well, which changes the dynamics of the relationship altogether.

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