Argentina-China: cooperate in adverse times

While cooperation as an interstate link has suffered among most countries, in the framework of the Covid-19 pandemic China and Argentina have chosen to cooperate in health matters.

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During the Covid-19 pandemic and the validity of social, preventive and compulsory isolation (ASPO), various cooperation actions were carried out in health matters between the People’s Republic of China and the Argentine Republic. In order to mitigate the adverse effects caused by the pandemic, China has cooperated with Argentina in both the public and private spheres to strengthen the national health system.

Regarding the public sphere, the cooperation emphasized donations and purchases of sanitary elements, at the national and sub-national level. In this sense, the province of Buenos Aires imported from China, for a value of 54 million dollars, 5.5 million disposable chinstraps, 300 thousand N90 chinstraps, 83 thousand goggles, 700 thousand face masks and 12 million pairs of gloves disposable. To this end, Aerolineas Argentinas carried out 32 flights to the city of Shanghai at a cost of $ 500,000 each. In the act in which the tightening of the quarantine in the Metropolitan Area of ​​Buenos Aires (AMBA) was announced, on June 26, Governor Axel Kicillof affirmed that “28 planes with sanitary supplies for his province had arrived in the country from from China”.

At the subnational level, the Chinese province of Guizhou donated medical supplies to the province of Jujuy, including a total of 9 thousand medical masks donated by the People’s Hospital of said province of China. Since 2017, both provinces have maintained a fraternal relationship within the framework of the twinning intention agreement to improve understanding, foster friendship, consolidate and develop friendly cooperation.

Likewise, the All China National Association of Journalists donated 200,000 masks to the Union of Press Workers of Buenos Aires to be delivered to union members. In this sense, Secretary General Lidia Fagale expressed that one of the central premises in the international arena of the Chinese press entity is the “deep sense of cooperation.” He also thanked “the solidary attitude of the colleagues and their repeated signs of commitment in strengthening the bilateral bond.”

On the other hand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship informed Fundeps, in response to a request for information made on June 30, that the Argentine Republic and the People’s Republic of China have maintained fluid contact within the framework of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic through videoconferences; and that Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his strong support for the measures taken by Argentina in relation to the pandemic.

The Foreign Ministry detailed that the following measures were carried out: first, negotiations were carried out through the Embassy of Argentina in China and the Consulate General and Promotion Center in Shanghai for the pertinent permits for the overflight and landing of aircraft of Aerolineas Argentinas to Shanghai in search of medical supplies, as well as the displacement of people. Secondly, the White Helmets Commission advised on the documentary procedures related to the donation of goods from abroad so that they comply with the customs regulations in force in our country.

On the other hand, the Foreign Ministry made it known that the cooperation between both countries is multi-level since it includes subnational entities, companies, institutions and other entities, which have made donations and sent supplies to various actors in our country. Within the donations and shipment of supplies are detailed: chinstraps, protective suits, protective glasses, detection tests, gloves, protection for footwear, among others.

These were assigned to the Ministry of Health, Defense, Security, provincial ministries and municipalities. In this way, the bilateral cooperation in health matters between Argentina and China reflects the growing interaction and linkage between both countries, in areas that are not only limited to trade and investment but also include a wide range of areas, such as academic, cultural , technological, health or scientific, among others. The aforementioned request made to the Argentine Foreign Ministry is part of a set of requests recently sent by Fundeps to different agencies of the national government requesting information regarding various aspects of Sino-Argentine relations and infrastructure and energy projects that have Chinese financing. In this sense, it should be noted that effective and timely access to public information is essential even in a context like the current one, marked by the pandemic.

Florence Harmitton
Mariano Camoletto
Gonzalo Roza, gon.roza@fundeps.org