Is China looking for military bases in South & Central America?

By: |
August 13, 2021 6:10 PM

Although China has economic interests in South and Central America, it has shown no intention of establishing a military base in the region, says a military expert based in Colombia.

China has been steadily sailing towards the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean and threatening the ecosystems of the South American nations.

The issue of Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing was removed at the request of China, a member of the UN Security Council, from the recently adopted presidential statement (PRST) on maritime security. IUU which poses a major threat to maritime security has been flagged worldwide and China is considered to be the worst offender on the index of IUU, 2019.

Although China has economic interests in South and Central America, it has shown no intention of establishing a military base in the region, says a military expert based in Colombia.

Maritime Security PRST Adopted by UNSC

The draft of the PRST was first circulated by India on 21 July. And after several rounds of negotiations the final draft was adopted by the United Nations Security Council members. In one of the earlier drafts of the PRST, there was also a request to have a standalone report on threats to maritime security. According to the information available in the public domain, China had expressed its objection to this, which is why it was not in the final document that was adopted.

China has been steadily sailing towards the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean and threatening the ecosystems of the South American nations.

Expert View

Sharing his views on this issue of IUU and the presence of Chinese trawlers in the region, Stephan Xavier Beltran, Colombia based military expert explains to Financial Express Online, “The issue with the presence of Chinese vessels around South American waters is more focused on the predation of fishing in a neighbourhood that, basically, has not been exploited at an industrial level.”

What about attempts to set up military bases?

“The establishment of one or more permanent Chinese military bases within the South American Pacific is unfeasible both politically and economically, especially if the intention is to guard the Chinese predatory fishing fleets, something that these nations have fought against for several years in order to protect its natural and fishing resources. Likewise, if it were possible to establish a military base in the area, it would generate a great source of tension in an area that historically has always remained independent of foreign intervention,” says the Colombia based independent military expert.

“Especially for Colombia, because our country has no great interest in the development of the Colombian Pacific area. Rather it the opposite, because because on the coast you will find several natural parks and protected areas, so the unexploited resources that are in this area is invaluable for being practically virgin areas,” Stephan Xavier Beltran explains.

According to him, “China has never brought a military presence to South American waters, something that would undoubtedly generate total rejection by the countries that have sovereignty over the area.

The continuous incidents with Chinese fishing vessels for illegal fishing in sovereign waters have always occurred outside of a possible intervention by the Asian giant’s military fleet.”

Sharing his opinion, the Colombia based Military expert Stephan Xavier Beltran says, “In this sense, there has been no progress regarding the intention of establishing temporary or permanent bases for the Chinese fleet in the region, as it would not be allowed by any government in the area, except perhaps Nicaragua. On previous occasions Nicaragua has been a place of transit for the Russian fleet in exercises across the Pacific, although this country does not have a large infrastructure in this area, so it has no possibility of supporting the establishment of a big military base even if it was financed by the Chinese government itself.”

Also Read: Chinese expansion in Pacific waters raise security concerns

“South America does not present the Chinese navy with a favorable outlook for its settlement in the region as it would inevitably clash with the political rejection of the countries in the area and strong military opposition to its presence in this part of the Pacific Ocean. So much so that they have not even shown an attempt to advance in this regard in the area,” he concludes.

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