US Southern Command (SouthCom) General Laura Richardson said that China is getting closer to the United States by expanding investment and infrastructure in Latin American countries through its infamous Belt and Road Initiative, Voice of America. VOA reported. “They are 20 yards from our homeland,” SouthCom Gen. Laura Richardson told the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. He used an American football analogy to show how close China is to scoring on the United States.
He said, “Or we can say that they are on the first or second island chain of our motherland.” Like other US military leaders, Richardson said Beijing has not yet established any real military outposts in the Western Hemisphere. However, concerns have grown, especially in light of reports in June that indicated China may be planning further expansion after upgrading an intelligence collection facility in Cuba in 2019.
“There is no Chinese base there yet,” Richardson said. “But I see this significant infrastructure investment with these BRI [Belt and Road Initiative] projects that possibly someday there could be some [foundation],” she said. There is a risk, according to Southcom’s Richardson, in particular, citing China’s use of dual-use technologies to build deepwater ports along important waterways such as the Panama Canal and the Strait of Magellan, which Chinese officials are increasingly considering. may allow switching from The facilities range from civilian to military use, according to the VOA.
Richardson also expressed concern over the spread of Chinese telecommunications infrastructure in South and Central America, noting that five countries have already outsourced their 5G mobile phone networks to China. According to him, another 24 countries rely on China for their 3G or 4G mobile networks, and many of them are being given a “near-zero cost” upgrade, which will keep them dependent on Beijing for their communications needs, according to VOA.
And so far, Richardson said, America has nothing better to offer. “Right now we are being outdone by the Chinese,” he said. “We have to be able to have alternative methods, alternative companies, alternative options for them [Latin American countries] to be able to choose.” According to the VOA, China’s efforts to develop critical infrastructure in South and Central America are preparing its armed forces for a possible foothold on the US border. The commander of the US Southern Command said on Friday that China is in the “red zone”, warning that many of China’s economic initiatives could easily be scrapped to support the Chinese military presence. This is not the first time Southcom’s Richardson has warned about China’s incursion into Central and South America.
During an appearance at the Washington-based Atlantic Council earlier this year, he spoke of the “PRC’s trap” reaching the Western Hemisphere, noting that 21 of the 31 Latin American countries have signed up to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. were done, in which 17 were welcomed. Chinese investment in its deep water ports. However, China’s embassy in Washington dismissed such concerns as “lies and rumors … and slander”. “To date, more than three-quarters of countries around the world have joined the initiative, creating 420,000 jobs in these countries and supporting more and more countries,” embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu told VOA via email. helped accelerate economic growth. “The BRI has been well accepted around the world because it is an initiative of comprehensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits,” Liu said. “China never imposes its will on other countries, nor does it pursue any selfish geopolitical agenda,” he said.