- NEW YORK POST - Emily Crane and Samuel Chamberlain - DEC 6, 2021 -
China may be looking at setting up its first military base off Africa’s Atlantic coast, according to classified US intelligence reports.
US officials told the Wall Street Journal that intelligence suggests China is eyeing the small African nation of Equatorial Guinea for its base.
Such a nightmare scenario for the US was suggested back in April by Gen. Stephen Townsend, the head of US Africa Command, who warned during a Senate hearing that China’s “most significant threat” would be “a militarily useful naval facility on the Atlantic coast of Africa.”
“By militarily useful I mean something more than a place that they can make port calls and get gas and groceries,” Townsend said at the time. “I’m talking about a port where they can rearm with munitions and repair naval vessels.”
The officials cited by the Journal declined to discuss details of the intelligence regarding China’s plans, but did say that the White House and Pentagon have already been pushing Equatorial Guinea to reject any potential proposal.
“As part of our diplomacy to address maritime security issues, we have made clear to Equatorial Guinea that certain potential steps involving [Chinese] activity there would raise national security concerns,” a senior Biden administration official told the outlet.
Jon Finer, President Biden’s principal deputy national security adviser, traveled to the African country in October to meet with Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
According to a White House statement at the time, the pair discussed – among other things — “maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.”
At the Pentagon Monday, spokesman John Kirby declined to elaborate on the specific “national security concerns,” but stated that the Chinese “in Africa, they continue to try to coerce behavior out of many African nations and try to intimidate, use economic leverage, to seek their own national security goals there, which do not contribute in the end run — we don’t believe — to the betterment of security and stability there and to the interest of many of these African nations.”
China has invested heavily in infrastructure projects in developing countries over recent years and African nations are no exception. In Equatorial Guinea, Beijing provided funding to construct a commercial port in the city of Bata — one of around 100 built by Chinese state-owned companies in the last two decades, according to government figures cited by the Journal.
China also helps arm and train Equatorial Guinea’s police force, according to the outlet.
In 2017, China opened its first overseas military base in the East African nation of Djibouti, which overlooks the straits separating the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aden — a key chokepoint for maritime traffic going to and from the Suez Canal.
China’s state-sponsored largesse has shown up in the Western Hemisphere as well.
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