As Biden dithers: Generals warn that Beijing has built a SPACE STATION in Argentina that could blind US, signed 21 countries up to trade pact and bought key ports on Panama Canal
- Commanders in the Pentagon are worried about Beijing’s growing influence on Latin America and the Caribbean
- China has pumped tens of billions of dollars into the region while embarking on major energy and infrastructure projects
- As Beijing’s power has grown, America’s has diminished thanks in part to Washington’s failure to install ambassadors in several major countries
China and the United States are dominated by spy balloons, Taiwan and botched attempts at diplomacy, commanders in the Pentagon are increasingly worried by a more insidious threat: Beijing‘s growing stronghold on Latin America.s headlines about the frosty relationship between
From tens of billions of dollars in funding for key infrastructure projects across the region to its own secretive, military-run space station in Argentina that could target American satellites, China’s presence has grown.
Some 21 countries in Latin America are signed up to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative – a defining policy introduced by President Xi Jinping in 2013 that wins power and influence by funding global infrastructure projects.
Chinese state banks have loaned $136 billion to Latin American countries since 2005 with terms US officials have dubbed a ‘spiraling trap’. The cash has funded everything from major energy projects to roads, sports stadiums and covid vaccines.
Meanwhile, private Chinese firms control major ports on the Panama Canal which US officials say ‘could be turned quickly toward military capabilities’. They supply the majority of Mexico’s telecoms equipment and mine vast amounts of crucial minerals on the continent.
From tens of billions of dollars in funding for key infrastructure projects across the region to its own secretive, military-run space station in Argentina that could target American satellites, China’s presence in Latin American and the Caribbean has grown huge
Some US officials fear the Espacio Lejano space station in a remote area in the western Neuquén Province could be used for military purposes. The $50 million station is part of China’s space program, which is run by the People’s Liberation Army
US commanders have said Xi Jinping and his administration regularly reaches out to leaders in the region to build relationships. The US ‘can do better in that respect’, said one general amid America’s delayed attempts to install ambassadors in key countries in the region
And as China’s influence has increased, America’s has diminished.
This ongoing power shift has triggered consternation of political and military leaders who no longer hide their frustration.
General Laura Richardson, the head of US Southern Command, told a House Armed Services Committee Hearing in March: ‘The [People’s Republic of China] has the capability and intent to eschew international norms, advance its brand of authoritarianism, and amass power and influence at the expense of these democracies.
‘The PRC has expanded its ability to extract resources, establish port, manipulate governments through predatory investment practices, and build potential dual-use space facilities — the most space facilities in any combatant command region.’
Richardson also said previously that President Xi calls leaders across the region ‘all the time’ to strengthen relations – and issued a veiled criticism of Washington’s attempts at diplomacy.
‘We need to do the same,’ she said. ‘And I think we can do better in that respect.’
She has also criticized the fact many major players in the region, including Brazil, Panama and Chile, have spent years with no US ambassador in place.
‘When countries see that we don’t have our senior diplomat there, it shows that we’re not serious,’ she said. That’s the message that it sends, and then they don’t really do anything of substance with the United States when we don’t have our senior diplomats there.’
General Laura Richardson, the head of US Southern Command, said China has ‘expanded its ability to extract resources, establish port [and] manipulate governments’
Chinese-linked firms control key ports at both ends of the Panama Canal. Pictured: A ship navigates through the Panama Canal in the area near the Americas’ Bridge in Panama City on April 24, 2023
Chinese has also invested heavily in the ‘Lithium Triangle’ where the majority of earth’s supply of the mineral – dubbed ‘white gold’ – is found. The mineral is essential for technology of the future like renewable energy systems and electric cars