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China's UK embassy stokes Argentina claim over Falkland Islands

·3 min read

China has stepped up pressure on Britain over the Falklands, insisting London respond to Argentina's latest demand that it relinquish control of the islands, known as Las Malvinas in Spanish.

The Chinese embassy in Britain on Tuesday reiterated Beijing's stance, a day after a furious response from London to a joint statement from President Xi Jinping and his Argentinian counterpart Alberto Fernandez which called for Argentina to be given "the full exercise of sovereignty" over the islands.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said "we completely reject any questions over sovereignty of the Falklands".

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A statement from the embassy said China's position on the issue of the Malvinas Islands had been consistent.

"We firmly support Argentina's legitimate claim to full sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands. China has always advocated that territorial disputes between countries should be resolved through peaceful negotiations in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter," it said.

"We hope that the UK will respond positively to Argentina's request, start dialogue and negotiation as soon as possible, and find a peaceful, just and lasting solution in accordance with relevant UN resolutions."

Xi and Fernandez raised the Falklands issue after talks in Beijing on the weekend, stirring simmering tensions between China and Britain, over the diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics as well as the Aukus deal to help Australia acquire nuclear submarines.

Beijing has also rejected London's criticism of its handling of Hong Kong affairs, which it regards as an internal matter.

Why is China so keen to get involved in the Falklands dispute?

Beijing has previously condemned Britain's "colonial mindset" in relation to the Falklands, which voted overwhelmingly in a 2013 referendum to remain a British overseas territory.

Speaking at a session on decolonisation last June, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN Geng Shuang called for all forms of colonialism to end. At the same session, Argentina tried to initiate negotiations with Britain over the islands' sovereignty.

"Today in the 21st century, the days when Western colonialists had free rein are long gone, " Geng said, adding that "colonial thinking, power politics and bullying" continued to manifest in international relations.

"[They] have a serious impact on global order, severely undermine the sovereignty, security and development rights of the countries concerned, as well as their political, economic, and social stability."

Argentina - which says it inherited the islands from the Spanish crown in 1767 - has never relinquished its claim. An invasion of the islands in 1982 was defeated by a British task force.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2022. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.