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While on the face of it, China’s acquisitions of ports looks like mere commercial transactions based on an economically driven agenda — the rhetoric China is employing — several analysts have pointed out that geopolitical concerns seem to be what are actually driving China’s port investments.
“A deliberate military and strategic functionality seems clearly entrenched in the initiative [acquisition of ports] ….there is abundant evidence it is developing a network of strategic strongpoints that can significantly raise the costs of any U.S. military intervention and lower the willingness of BRI [port] host governments to offer access or assistance to the United States.” — Daniel R. Russell and Blake H. Berger, “Weaponizing the Belt and Road Initiative,” Asia Society Policy Institute, September 2020.
“U.S. naval vessels might not be able to call regularly at ports under Chinese management because of the risk that commercial port information-technology (IT) systems could be used to monitor or interfere with military systems and jeopardize U.S. information and cybersecurity.” — Admiral Gary Roughead, US Navy Chief of Naval Operations, Naval War College Review , Winter 2019.
For that reason, the US warned Israel that China’s management of the new Haifa port terminal could potentially damage US-Israeli security cooperation, as it might lead to US Navy ships refraining from docking there.
“By creating a global port network for ostensibly commercial purposes, China has gained the ability to project power through the increased physical presence of its naval vessels—turning the oceans that historically have protected the United States from foreign threats into a venue in which China can challenge U.S. interests.” — Christopher R. O’Dea, Naval War College Review , Winter 2019.
Another grave concern is that Chinese port investments create economic and political leverage for the CCP that can affect local policy and decision making… After China invested in and acquired much of the port of Piraeus, Greece blocked an EU statement criticizing China’s human rights record…. prevented a unified EU statement against China’s behavior in the South China Sea… and opposed tougher screenings of Chinese investments in Europe — a […]
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