China is expanding its ports around the world
London: Radio Free Asia reported that China is building a new military port at Bata in the Central African nation of Equatorial Guinea (EQG), the first Chinese port on the Atlantic coast of West Africa. The United States is concerned about China’s first military presence off America’s east coast and just 6,000 miles from Washington. It is a strategic location for China. Peking University professor Bo Hu suggested that Bata might be useful in “pinning down” US forces en route to the Indo-Pacific. Since 1979, EQG has been headed by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema and his son “Teddy”; the other son of President Gabriel Obiang Lima is Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons, EQG is a member of OPEC. According to the World Bank, EQG is “well endowed with arable land and mineral resources ranging from gold, petroleum, uranium, diamonds and columbite-tantalite, and notably petroleum discovered in the 1990s” , they also hold natural resources of gas, wood. , bauxite, clay, sand and gravel. These are all very useful resources in an expanding and expansionist China.
China is expanding its interests in ports around the world. In September, it was announced that the Shanghai International Port Group had resumed operations in Haifa, Israel, for a 25-year lease. Chinese giant COSCO Shipping has acquired a 35% minority stake in large Hamburg container operator HHLA Tollerort, which is set to become the preferred hub for COSCO’s European shipping operations. In August 2020, a press release from COSCO stated that “CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal, the first overseas project of COSCO SHIPPING Ports Limited (CSP), announced the start of a direct weekly service to several ports in Europe and the Indian subcontinent ”, but recently that port development in Khalifa, United Arab Emirates, was halted after US officials Brett McGurk and Jake Sullivan intervened when satellite images apparently showed a construction hidden inside a terminal. operated by COSCO.
In Greece, the port of Piraeus is part of the Chinese maritime silk route, COSCO has been managing the site for ten years, and today a Chinese flag flies at the entrance; China’s stake in the fourth largest port in Greece and Europe has now increased to 67%.
Ports are considered one of the three pillars of sea power, and therefore of world power, and Beijing is said to have more than 100 ports in 63 countries. Since the completion of Djibouti, the PLAN installation capable of accommodating an aircraft carrier, Beijing has its eyes riveted on the future ports of Tanzania, Cambodia and Kiribati in the central Pacific. COSCO’s operations already extend from the Balkans to the Mediterranean, including the Middle East and South East Asia. In an August 2021 editorial for the Daily Mail, Liam Fox, former UK Secretary of Defense, said: “Some of these (ports) are in key locations for maritime trade, which also means trade in energy, giving Beijing strategic dominance without having to deploy a single soldier, ship or weapon. Craig Singleton, a Chinese expert at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told Voice of America: “These port links allow Beijing to exert political influence not only in the country hosting the port, but in many cases as well. in neighboring countries ”. According to the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), Piraeus has opened the door to the Belt and Road initiative in the Balkans. China now has 136 projects across Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Montenegro, North Macedonia and especially Serbia. Projects include telecommunications, broadcasting and films, extraction of natural resources (copper, oil, sulfur, gas), infrastructure (airports, railways, highways, maritime fleets), energy (solar, wind power) , hydraulic, thermal and hydroelectric, education and establishment of Confucius institutes, vaccines, environmental and military donations. China has many excuses for the development of geostrategic ports, surveillance and prevention of piracy or climate change, and social responsibility China has allies in Russia, Pakistan and SAARC.
Global interest will turn to counter-alliances such as AUKUS or the Quad, and India’s advance to defend the border of freedom in the Indo-Pacific with some form of buffer port plans. India is the key player in uniting South Asia.