Argentina turns to China for arms supply

Argentina turns to China for arms supply
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner with Chinese President Xi Jinping after signing agreements at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Feb. 4

BUENOS AIRES -- Argentina, under siege by Western creditors and short on foreign currency, has turned to China for help modernizing its decrepit defence systems, as part of its strengthening ties with the Asian power.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Argentine counterpart, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, signed numerous investment and trade agreements during her three-day visit to Beijing in February -- a trip made notorious by her quip on Twitter about Chinese accents.

Among the deals was a US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion) order for Chinese military supplies, such as armored personnel carriers, fighter jets and navy vessels. Agustin Rossi, Argentina's minister of defence, said in March that the FC-1/JF-17 fighter jet made by China's Chengdu Aircraft Corporation suited the needs of the country's air force.

The two nations also agreed to exchange military officers. In addition, China will build field hospitals in Argentina.

In March, the Argentine Congress approved China's first overseas satellite tracking station. The US$300 million base is to be built in Argentina's southern Neuquen province and will begin operations in 2016.

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