The Pacific Islands and their vast expanse of ocean have never been a major source of traditional military threats. The post-World War Two security architecture of the Pacific has historically been dominated by the United States. Yet today, China’s diplomatic and economic push into the Pacific is incrementally reshaping the strategic landscape. While its presence in the region is not new, Beijing has capitalised on the dissonance between Washington and the Pacific Island nations by steadily and significantly expanding its commercial and geopolitical clout. As a result, ten of the fourteen Pacific Island nations now recognise the One China policy, which warrants considerable attention from the United States and other regional actors such as Australia.
As of 2010, Argentina became one of the main exporting countries of soybean oil and flour. Since then, its commercial ties with China have multiplied: in 2014, the Latin American country gave China a significant part of its land to build a Space Station and, a year earlier, the Argentine state paid a billion dollars for Chinese wagons. Currently, the Asian country is targeting the Paraná River waterway, the installation of hog farms and hydroelectric power plants in Patagonia.
When an autocratic state calls for democracy, rule of law, and sovereignty, something just does not add up to Westerners. For the West to better understand contemporary China and its government’s underlying values, understanding China’s interpretation of those three elements should be a priority.