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Floating cities in the Argentine sea
How Chinese and Japanese fishing boats installed a floating city right at the border of Argentine waters
Welcome Avatar! A short but bizarre story about Chinese and Japanese fishing ships fishing right at the border of the Argentine Sea in international waters. This floating city is used for illegal fishing and moves through the limits of the Argentine maritime zone and can even be spotted on nocturnal maps.
These foreign ships are located at mile 201, but they also enter the exclusive economic area of Argentina. The Argentine navy does not have the manpower to combat this kind of illegal fishing in any shape or form.
The vast majority of the boats near Comodoro Rivadavia, are dedicated entirely to squid fishing. 70% of the ships that are within the 200 nautical mile limit are Chinese; followed by the Spanish and Portuguese, who fish for spider crab.
This true city of fishermen is the only thing that can be seen on the surface of the sea, and just outside that area, in a place known as mile 201, the activity of foreign fishing vessels does not fall under local regulations, since these are international waters.
However, the opportunities to fill their floating warehouses are better within the Argentine Sea sector. The depth changes and business becomes more favorable at miles 196 or 197.
This is where the problem of illegal fishing begins, with damages for Argentina estimated at about one billion dollars.
Some 300 foreign ships, mostly Chinese, move slowly in the immensity of the Atlantic. The key point is in the fuel required to move: according to repeated public complaints, they receive state subsidies in China, and also dock at ports in countries near Argentina to refuel, although many times the logistics of these fleets allow fishing vessels to resupply at sea.
Remember: these units are fishing there for MONTHS on end. The show is impressive. Because of the brightness, it looks like a flyover of a medium-sized city:
United States gets involved
The Southern Command and the University of Florida organized a conference to address this problem that is increasingly affecting the Western Hemisphere, pointing at China as the main perpetrator.
In January 2021, USSOUTHCOM and the United States Coast Guard launched Operation Southern Cross. It was the first time in recent history that a Coast Guard vessel participated in cooperative exercises in the South Atlantic against illegal fishing. The original plan included the visit of the USCG Cutter Stone to Guyana, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina.
The operation was a clear example of the current geopolitical tensions between China and the United States in South America when the Coast Guard had to cancel its visit to Argentina. I expect more of this as the US tries to regain a foothold in LatAm under a renewed Monroe Doctrine.
Argentina: vulnerable and ready to receive those crunchy Yuans
But, as you might imagine, China will not give up so fast. Just last week, the Central Bank in Argentina activated its Yuan Currency Swap to boost its foreign reserves. China offered the swap right after the last default, and before that Xi offered another one.
The thing is, these swaps are not just handed out like candy on Halloween. And China is getting a lot more in return if you factor in that the PBOC can print Yuan to infinity, much like the Fed does with US Tokens in a more indirect way.
For the first currency swap with China in 2015, Argentina handed the CCP a 20-year lease to a terrain in Neuquén right next to the biggest oil and gas fields in the country, Vaca Muerta. If you haven’t read about this story yet, I recommend you do so here (it’s very bizarre, and even the Argentina government has no insight whatsoever about what happens on that Chinese military base).
And guess what would help China tremendously with making sure all those fishing boats keep supplying the Mainland with fish and squid? That’s right: a port.
China pressures Argentina to build a port in Ushuaia
China is pressuring Argentina once more to create a naval base in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego province, which would allow Beijing access to Antarctica and most of the Argentine Sea without having to refuel in other countries.
The military base would allow China to control the passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and monitor communications throughout the hemisphere, amounting to a clear and significant meddling in international affairs on the part of China.
When China launched its Belt and Road initiative in 2013, the country was clear about this section of the South American continent. If this facility in Ushuaia is built, it may be the first of several on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, as well as in the Andes.
It is a dangerous precedent that these rumours about the Ushuaia naval base only recently started to emerge, right after a new currency swap with China was announced.
Let’s see how long the US let’s this develop in its backyard. In my opinion the US is still not taking China’s build up seriously enough in the region.
See you in the Jungle, anon!
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