United Nations Secretariat Tower, New York (by Billie Grace Ward via Wikimedia Commons)

The government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has voiced its support for Argentina’s claims over the Falkland Islands amid a diplomatic spat with the United Kingdom.

On June 24 Geng Shuang (耿爽), the PRC’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, said during a press conference that the PRC “firmly supports Argentina’s sovereignty claims over the Malvinas [the Falklands are called Malvinas in Argentina]”.

“The Malvinas issue is basically an issue left over from the history of colonialism,” Geng said, adding that colonialism is “an extremely disgraceful page in the history of humankind”.

“Today in the 21st century, the days when Western colonialists could do whatever they wanted are over and will not return,” he said. “At the same time we must realize that in international relations colonialist thinking as well as the power politics and bullying behaviour related to it are still manifested in different forms, still severely impact the normal international order, and harm the sovereignty, security, and development rights, as well as the political, economic, and social stability of the countries concerned.”

“China’s position regarding the issue of the Malvinas has been consistent. China firmly supports Argentina’s legitimate sovereignty claims over the Malvinas,” Geng stated.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses legitimate criticism of colonialism and imperialism to craft a rhetoric of national humiliation to further the party’s political aims.

The PRC not only has an imperialist agenda regarding Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea, but it also controls areas conquered by force by the imperial Qing dynasty (1644-1912).

The United Kingdom has recently criticized the PRC’s treatment of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang province. On June 23 the UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab also condemned the forced shutdown of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily.

“The forced closure of Apple Daily by the Hong Kong authorities is a chilling blow to freedom of expression in Hong Kong,” Raab said. “The Chinese government undertook to protect press freedom and freedom of speech in Hong Kong under the UK-Sino Joint Declaration. It must keep its promises, and stand by the commitments it freely assumed.”

Read: The Rise and Decline of Hong Kong – From the British Colonial Era to the Chinese Communist Takeover

The Falkland Islands, known in Argentina as the Malvinas Islands, were proclaimed by the Argentinian government as part of its territory when it gained its independence from Spain in 1816.

In 1832 a fort built by Argentina was destroyed by the USS Lexington in retaliation for the capture of US ships in the area. In 1833, British forces seized the Falklands and expelled Argentinian officials.

In 1841, a British lieutenant governor was appointed, and by the 1880s the islands had a small British settlement of about 1,800 people. In 1892 the Falkland Islands were granted colonial status.

In 1981, the Falkland population voted in a referendum to remain British. One year later the military dictatorship led by General Leopoldo Galtieri launched an invasion of the islands that resulted in the Falklands War.

According to the Falkland Islands government, the islands have a population of about 2,563 people, predominantly of British descent.

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