US concerns over Chinese expansion in Panama Canal region

 
7,195Views 8Comments Posted 16/06/2018

As President Donald Trump fires the first broadside in a trade war with China, concerns are growing in the USA over the growing presence of China in the vicinity of the Panama Canal.

In a recent appearance before the United States Senate, Kurt W. Tidd, head of the Southern Command, warned about the penetration of the Chinese in an area so strategic for Washington, as the Panama Canal, reports La Estrella de Panama.

Trojan Horse
A report in the Spanish newspaper 'ABC' indicates that in addition to the economic rivalry that has always existed between the two countries, Beijing also poses a Trojan horse security challenge for the United States, with its presence in the interoceanic route.

The Torrijos - Carter Treaty, for the return of the Canal, guarantees free international transit and reserves Washington the right to intervene if that freedom is threatened. The waterway is fundamental for communications and trade between the two US coasts.

Tidd, quoted by the Spanish newspaper, said that "the greater scope of crucial global access points such as Panama creates commercial and security vulnerabilities for the United States."

He said that China’s plan to extend their New Silk Road project to Latin America and the policy of granting credits to the nations of the area represents an opportunity for the Asian country to expand its influence on key partners, promote business and improper labor practices.

Pearl necklace
The possibilities of the port terminals managed by the Chinese and adjacent to the interoceanic canal to become part of the so-called 'pearl necklace' (ports operated by China on strategic routes to facilitate stopovers of its fleet) has also been cited  by  the  'Wall Street' Journal 'in its publication' Navy Faces Global Chinese Maritime Threat '.

China is the second user of the Panama Canal, after the United States, and the largest supplier of goods in the Panamanian free zone, which is the largest in Latin America and the second in the world. Panama is currently negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA)with China.

In the Atlantic, the Chinese company CCCC (China Communications Construction Company) has built 30% of the new Panama Colón Container Port, a terminal that will facilities suitable for the new dimensions of the Expanded Canal and multipurpose ships. and a station for the reception of liquefied gas.

CCCC is one of the largest port construction and design companies in Asia.

The company Hutchinson Wampoa, of Hong Kong, has been managing a port terminal for two years at the southern entrance of the Panama Canal.

With an investment of $ 165 million, in Amador, the Chinese company CHEC is part of a Cruceros del Pacifico consortium to build a new cruise port.

Two Chinse companies are involved in the bidding for the $1 fourth bridge over the Canal.

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