‘No Deals with Communists’: Argentina Presidential Frontrunner Javier Milei Would Limit Ties to China

Argentine congressman and presidential pre-candidate for La Libertad Avanza Alliance, Javier Milei, casts his vote during primary elections at a polling station in Buenos Aires on August 13, 2023. (Photo by ALEJANDRO PAGNI / AFP) (Photo by ALEJANDRO PAGNI/AFP via Getty Images)

The frontrunner in the upcoming presidential election in Argentina, Javier Milei, told Bloomberg News in an interview published Thursday that he would “not promote relations with communists,” including one of Argentina’s largest trade partners, China.

Milei became the frontrunner in the election, scheduled for October 22, on Sunday, winning the national primary by 30 percent, or nearly ten percent more than his nearest contender. Argentina uses a system known as “Simultaneous and Mandatory Open Primaries” (PASO) in which all prospective candidates are placed on a primary ballot and each must receive at least 1.5 percent of the votes to appear on the official presidential election ballot.

Milei became prominent as an economic commentator on Argentine news and is running for president as part of a political coalition known as La Libertad Avanza (“Liberty Advances”), an anti-establishment far-right coalition. Milei himself identifies as anti-communist, anarcho-capitalist, and is often referred to as libertarian, although he proposes several policies that run afoul of establishment American libertarianism, such as government protections for the life of unborn children. His decisive victory in the PASO does not affect the presidential election, as all three top contenders will appear on the ballot once again.

Milei will face off against establishment center-right candidate Patricia Bullrich, who came in second place, and socialist current Economy Minister Sergio Massa, a former failed presidential candidate. Current hardline socialist President Alberto Fernández chose not to run for reelection.

Fernández has dramatically reconfigured Argentina’s foreign policy, tethering the nation’s economic future to China. Fernández joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global debt trap scheme, in February 2022 and has begun trading with China in the yuan, substituting for the U.S. dollar. Last year, Fernández visited Beijing and honored communist mass murderer Mao Zedong, leaving an offering at his tomb.

Milei told Bloomberg News this week that he would likely undo much of Fernández’s China policy and ensure that Argentina’s closest international allies were America and Israel.

“Our fundamental bases are free trade, peace, freedom, and aligning ourselves with the West, where the top references in this for us are the U.S. and Israel,” Milei explained. Asked about his position on trade with China, he responded, “Well, they will be commercial partners in the private sector. We don’t make deals with communists.”

“I would not promote relations with communists – not with Cuba, not with Venezuela, not with North Korea, not with Nicaragua, not with China,” he insisted.

In a segment of the interview that Bloomberg printed but does not appear on video, Milei reportedly referred to China as a “murderer” state and condemned its extreme persecution of its own people.

“People are not free in China, they can’t do what they want and when they do it, they get killed,” he observed. “Would you trade with a murderer?”

Milei, despite advocating for free trade generally, has for years argued that free trade with communist actors is impossible.

“I would not do business with China,” he said in a 2021 interview, denying that cutting ties to Beijing wold lead to “macroeconomic tragedy.”

Argentine congressman and presidential pre-candidate for La Libertad Avanza Alliance Javier Milei cheers as confetti falls on the stage at the end of the closing of his campaign for the August 13 primary elections, at the Movistar Arena in Buenos Aires on August 7, 2023. (LUIS ROBAYO/AFP via Getty Images)

“We could do business with the civilized side of life. I don’t do transactions with communists,” he insisted.

Milei has repeatedly denounced all leftist ideologies as “murderous” and described Argentina as “infected with socialism.”

“What has to be achieved is to take socialism out of the minds of the people,” he promised in a now-viral interview on Argentine television. In other comments, Milei has repeatedly asserted that all “shitty leftist” ideology has failed.

“Socialism where it was applied purely was a failure economically, socially, culturally, and also, a little detail, they murdered 150 million people,” he told Argentina’s A24.

Bloomberg asked the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday about Milei’s comments in its interview, to which spokesman Wang Wenbin responded by inviting the candidate to China.

“Freedom is an important aspect of the common values of humanity and core socialist values. China is a country governed by law. Personal freedom of Chinese citizens, sacred and inviolable, is protected by our Constitution,” Wang claimed. “Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, China has created the two miracles of rapid economic growth and long-term social stability, and people enjoy a growing sense of happiness and security.”

“I believe that if Mr. Milei can come to China and see the country for himself, he will find a totally different answer to the question of “whether or not Chinese people are free and China is safe,” Wang said.

In reality, China is one of the world’s most repressive totalitarian regimes, responsible for an ongoing genocide in East Turkistan and the mass imprisonment or unexplained disappearance of perceived political dissidents, religious citizens, and anyone considered a threat to dictator Xi Jinping. The latest high-profile victim of China’s “long-term social stability” is Wang’s former boss, the ex-Foreign Minister Qin Gang, who disappeared without explanation in late June and has yet to be seen in public since.

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