UK fumes after Beijing throws its weight behind Buenos Aires which claims sovereignty over the British overseas islands it calls the Malvinas.

Leader of both sides say they will continue to support each other on issues concerning sovereign interests.
Leader of both sides say they will continue to support each other on issues concerning sovereign interests. (AFP)

China has announced its support for Argentina's territorial claims over the British-run Falkland Islands as it welcomed the South American country into its global Belt and Road Initiative following a meeting of presidents Xi Jinping and Alberto Fernandez in Beijing.

On Sunday, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said Beijing and Buenos Aires inked an agreement on "jointly promoting the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road", marking Argentina's entry into the initiative.

China's BRI is a trillion-dollar push to improve trade links across the globe by building landmark infrastructure, and the inclusion of Argentina is a major win for Beijing in Latin America.

The deal came as Argentine President Fernandez made a three-day visit to China to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Winter Games. 

Both sides said in a statement they would continue to support each other on issues concerning sovereign interests. 

The statement backed each other's territorial claims –– the Falkland Islands for Argentina and China's over Taiwan.

"Argentina reaffirmed its commitment to the one-China principle; China reaffirmed its support for Argentina's demand to fully exercise sovereignty on the Malvinas Islands, and for the resumption of negotiations to resolve the disputes through peaceful means in accordance with relevant resolutions of the United Nations," state-affiliated CGTN reported, citing the joint-statement.

UK voices anger

"We completely reject any questions over sovereignty of the Falklands," UK's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a tweet. 

"The Falklands are part of the British family and we will defend their right to self determination." Truss said, adding, China must respect the Falklands' sovereignty.

Chen Weihua, a journalist for state-run China Daily, replied to Truss saying: "But it's okay for UK to challenge China's sovereignty in the South China Sea by sending navy vessels?"

"At least China has not sent its navy near the Malvinas, or what you call the Falklands," Weihua said.

The Falklands are a self-governing British overseas territory that have been under British control since 1833.

Argentina and Britain have long disputed ownership of the Falklands, with Argentina claiming sovereignty over the islands it calls the Malvinas. 

The dispute led to a brief war in 1982 in which 255 British troops and about 650 Argentine soldiers died.

The disputed islands are nearly 13,000 kilometres from UK and just 650 kilometres from Argentina's southeast coast and home to some 2,600 people, mostly of British descent.

Source: AFP