Monday, January 03, 2005

China Taking Control of the Panama Canal Zone?

Via AdamSmithee, who references memefirst, comes a very interesting analysis of Latin American Security Challenges. It includes a section on China, which raises the following issue:

Recent developments strongly suggest that China is seeking to develop a shipping strategy to support its foreign-trade activities through resources generated by the shipping industry. In 1996, the government of Panama granted the Panama Port Company (PPC) a contract to operate both access ports to the Panama Canal: Cristóbal on the Caribbean side and Balboa on the Pacific Ocean. The PPC, a subsidiary of the Hong Kong–based company Hutchison Whampoa Limited, is a port operator currently updating the technology at both ports. This company handles 70 percent of the container traffic all over the world. It has now been given the chance to develop what used to be the U.S. naval base at Rodman Point, close to Balboa.

Some American analysts, arguing that this company is linked to the Chinese military, have objected to this agreement. Indeed, it is quite plausible that, although all Chinese companies serve Chinese economic interests, some could currently be used as “screens” or “cover” to hide certain military activities or even others with a dual purpose.

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