China’s Military Agreements with Argentina: A Potential New Phase in China-Latin America Defense Relations

Date: 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

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Summary: 

In February 2015, China and Argentina announced prospective weapons sales and defense cooperation agreements extending beyond the scope of any made between China and a Latin American nation to date. These plans include Argentina’s purchase or coproduction of 14-20 fourth-generation fighter aircraft, at least 100 armored personnel carriers, and five naval vessels; enhanced military-to-military exchanges; and China’s construction in Argentina of a space tracking facility in conjunction with satellite imagery sharing. If fulfilled, these agreements would vastly surpass China’s previous regional arms exports in value and achieve several new benchmarks in the breadth, competitiveness, and technological sophistication of its regional arms sales; altogether representing a new phase in China-Latin America defense engagement. These developments would present several implications for U.S. objectives in the region: U.S. arms suppliers would likely see continued market share reduction, the United States may face a new regional security hazard, regional actors might alter their political stances or use Chinese arms in ways unfavorable to U.S. interests, and the Falkland Islands dispute might briefly and temporarily intensify. Despite the rapid growth and proximity of China’s regional defense engagements, however, they present no direct security threat to the United States.

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