Chinas President Xi Jinping is about to embark on an ambitious Latin American tour: From July 15 to July 23, the Chinese leader will attend a BRICS summit in Brazil, and then travel to Argentina, Cuba, and Venezuela.
The BRICS summit will likely receive the most news coverage, but the Chinese leader may accomplish more during his visits to the other Western Hemisphere nations.
China’s trade with Argentina
President Xi Jinping will arrive in Argentina next Friday, July 18. Since China and Argentina first established relations in 1972, commerce has been an important cornerstone in their relationship. For example, the Sino-Argentine Chamber of Commerce hosted a symposium on May 26 to discuss economic cooperation between Argentina and the Chinese city of Shenyang.
As for trade, a July 1 press release by the Argentine government states that China was a major importer of Argentine goods over the past trimester. During this period, China imported 7.8 percent of Argentine goods, and became Argentinas second trading partner (Brazil was first with 20.6 percent of imports).
China is also interested in strengthening energy ties with Argentina.
For example, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation bought shares of the Argentine energy firm Bridas in 2010. It seems that China plans to use this company as a proxy to begin drilling in the Vaca Muerta oil field in the near future.
Finally, Beijing-Buenos Aires relations received a diplomatic boost during the G77+China summit in Bolivia this June. During the meeting, the representatives of the participating nations, including China, declared their support for Argentina over the infamous vulture funds.
China’s ties with Venezuela
Relations between Venezuela and China greatly improved during the presidency of the late Hugo Chávez, and it seems that Nicolas MaduroVenezuelas current presidentis following in his mentors footsteps. The strengthening relations between the two nations are best demonstrated by Maduros trip to Beijing in September 2013, and Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yis visit to Caracas this past April.
Today, Venezuela is Chinas fourth largest trading partner in Latin America, and China is Venezuelas second largest trading partner. The Chinese People Daily explains that bilateral commerce reached $19 million USD in 2013.
However, the relationship between these two countries goes beyond trade. As BBC explains, China has continued to heavily invest in Venezuela. Two major Chinese oil companies, China National Petroleum Corporation and China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation have invested in the South American countrys oil industry.
Additionally, China is attempting to profit from the billions of dollars that Venezuela spends on its armed forces. This past April, there were reports that Caracas had finally agreed to purchase the L-15 Falcon, a military aircraft manufactured by China.