Beijing's global 'business' enterprises just a front for military buildup

Beijing's global 'business' enterprises just a front for military buildup

Beijing's global 'business' enterprises just a front for military buildup

China's interest in America's "strategic front yard" is a threat to global security – and according to one national security expert, civilian and military leaders in the U.S. pretty much just watched and let it happen.

Recent reports about a Chinese naval base in West Africa are "concerning" to Col. Grant Newsham (USMC-Ret.), senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy. The Chinese regime's activity in the region "should not be a surprise to anyone," he tells American Family News.

"The People's Republic of China [PRC] has been angling for at least the last 20 years to establish a network of port facilities around the world to which the People's Liberation Army Navy will have access," Newsham says. Those efforts, he adds, will allow the People's Liberation Army (PLA) – the Chinese military – to operate globally.

Newsham explains that just like America's leaders, Beijing's leaders early on understood the importance of a global military that would allow them to protect their overseas interests. "It will also allow the PRC to project power – both militarily and politically – and, if necessary, to fight wars," he adds.

Currently, the PLA has only one overseas base: in Djibouti on the Red Sea.

Newsham, Grant (Center for Security Policy) Newsham

"The PRC became active in Djibouti in the mid-2000s, insisting it was just for commercial purposes and that it had no military intentions," Newsham points out. "The U.S. State Department believed them; but by the mid-2010s, the PLA had a base and forces permanently stationed in the country."

This, he argues, is "the predictable and observable sequence that China uses to set up a global infrastructure that will eventually support PLA operations worldwide." It begins with a Chinese commercial presence with accompanying investment and infrastructure development that includes ports and airfields.

"These are claimed to be for commercial purposes only – but are obviously dual-use, equally useful for military ships and aircraft," Newsham contends. "The commercial and investment activities lead to political influence with the local government, [and] it is all greased with money, under-the-table payments to buy off local elites."

What follows is the military and security component of the process, Newsham points out, adding that it happens "so slowly that the U.S. and Western governments barely notice – or better said, won't admit – what's going on until it's too late."

Momentum builds

According to the retired Marine Corps officer, Chinese port and airfield development activities are taking place on nearly every continent. Newsham points out that in addition to West Africa, the Chinese regime is setting up dual-use infrastructure on Africa's west and east coasts, as well as along the entire rim of the Indian Ocean to include Pakistan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.

"The same thing is taking place on both sides of Latin America, to include Mexico and the Caribbean," he continues. "Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific are also in the cross-hairs." New Guinea and the Solomon Islands are also being eyed by the regime, he says.

"The Chinese global military threat – in terms of conventional military power – is limited at the moment," Newsham suggests. "But wait a decade, or less, and we will likely see the People's Liberation Army operating worldwide on a regular basis via a network of port and airfield facilities that they insisted were for 'business purposes' only," he adds.

Newsham also warns, "Don't forget that along with a military presence comes political influence." To that end, he says, "the United States military will no longer be the only 'global' force."

And according to the retired Marine Corps officer, Beijing's expanding political and military influence was preventable.

"Our ruling elites – civilian and military – could see it coming years ago and have either turned a blind eye or pretended China wasn't doing what was plainly obvious," he states. "[Even worse,] Wall Street and the American business class provided, either directly or indirectly, the foreign currency that funded China's overseas activities such as port, airfield, and infrastructure development."

To Newsham, it's clear. "The Chinese global buildup has momentum – [and while] it's not unstoppable, the United States and free nations need to do something about it."

Editor's Note: Col. Grant Newsham (USMC-Ret.) is author of the book "When China Attacks: A Warning to America."