On Wednesday, Argentine Minister of Defense Arturo Puricelli and his Chinese counterpart, General Liang Guanglie, signed a memorandum of understanding in which they agreed to cooperate in the area of defense. The agreement was signed during a visit by the Argentine minister to Beijing to strengthen a relationship developed and deepened since 2004, when President Hu Jintao visited Argentina following the visit of then-President Néstor Kirchner to China.
During a lecture at the National University of the Republic of China in Beijing, Minister Puricelli said, “We are making a fresh start toward building a true bilateral strategic partnership of cooperation in defense” with China. Under the terms of the agreement, the two countries plan to conduct joint military exercises, exchange of UN peacekeeping experiences, and collaboration in the fields of science, technology and industry for defense purposes. China and Argentina had previously signed a similar memorandum for the period 2007-2012, which expired last month. The new agreement has no end date.
Puricelli denied that negotiations for the purchase of weapons were conducted, but hinted such purchases are not “restricted.” He noted that the interest of Argentina is in cooperation and technology transfer, especially because much of the technology currently used in Argentina comes from the United Kingdom, and the government wants to “replace the technology with that of friendly countries,” he said. Argentina’s defense ministry said yesterday that Puricelli had visited China’s defense contractors, including providers of helicopters, guided weapons systems and anti-aircraft artillery, and Puricelli also pointed to the “unvarying support” of China with regard to Argentina’s claims to sovereignty over the Islas Malvinas/Falkland Islands.