Epoch TV Review: China is Buying and May Weaponize Seaports Worldwide

September 27, 2021 Updated: September 27, 2021

Commentary

In an episode of “China in Focus,” Tiffany Meier exposes the buying spree that China has been on for seaports around the world. The episode looks into China’s port acquisitions over the past 10 years, some of the potential motives behind the purchases, how Beijing may intend to weaponize these ports, and what Chinese ownership means for the other countries involved.  

Meier starts by showing an example of the significance of port ownership as seen in Greece. In 2016, China bought a majority stake in the largest port in Greece at the time. Although the port was in Greece, having a majority stake allowed China to act as owner, operator, and developer of the entire port. This means that the port was essentially handed over to the Communist regime. China has berthed warships at the port, showcasing their ability to militarize it. Since acquiring the port, China has also imposed their authority on Greece’s economic policy, and has even taken an active role in hindering statements from the European Union that would criticize China’s policies. 

Seaports have the potential to be used for dual purposes. One of these purposes being commercial and the other being military. Meier gives various examples of China’s military first, followed by citizens’ philosophy, and goes on to raise concerns about how these things may influence their motivations in using these ports. She notes that as long as Chinese-owned ships can operate at a port, they can be used by the military. According to a 2015 Chinese law, all Chinese shipping container vessels are mandated to be built according to military standards. In 2016, China passed another law making it legal for the Chinese military to use civilian assets for their operations. The law also requires all Chinese shipping industries to aid the Chinese military as needed.

Watch the full episode here.

In this episode, Meier also analyzes whether the buying of ports could be solely motivated by commercial interests. However, many of the ports owned by China are not proving to be profitable, with some even losing money. Despite the country losing money on the ports, China has renewed their contracts with the ports for extensive periods of time. Meier believes this suggests other motives. It is also important to note that the types of ports that China acquires are also suited for military use if needed. 

Dr. Antonio Graceffo, a China economics analyst, says that since China is the largest export nation, their key priorities are to keep shipping lanes open and cheap. The port acquisition campaign is included as part of The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which was unveiled in 2013 by Party leader Xi Jinping. According to its official website, the BRI is a  “transcontinental long-term policy and investment program focused on infrastructure development and acceleration of the economic integration of countries along the route of the historic Silk Road.” On paper, the policy appears to simply entail countries working together to advance infrastructure and economic prosperity. However, critics have expressed concerns over how the policy creates financial dependence on China, essentially allows Chinese ownership of companies, and leaves other governments indebted to the Chinese government.

In regards to the port acquisitions, many are now wondering if there could be other consequences as well.  

Military personnel have also expressed security concerns about China’s ownership of the ports. For example, China Ocean Shipping company at one point became the owner of the port of Long Beach in California. This port handles millions of containers annually and employs hundreds of thousands of workers. Former Chief of Naval Operations, Gary Roughead, said that “Chinese port operators will be able to monitor U.S. ship movements closely, be aware of maintenance activities, have access to equipment moving to and from repair sites, and interact freely with our crews over protracted periods.” 

Ownership of international ports gives China the ability to decide which countries can use the ports. It also allows China to lower or raise fees for certain countries, set the requirements for ships passing through the ports, and control the areas around each port. Owning more ports, also increases a country’s access to maritime sea lanes. Before 2010, China owned very few ports—today, China is one of the largest holders of seaports globally. 

The episode concludes with a news briefing on important events happening in China and what they mean for the United States. One transpiring event is the involvement of a China broadcasting company pushing race propaganda through children’s cartoons. The cartoons perpetuate the idea of Critical Race Theory, which claims that white people are privileged and inherently racist, and that people of color are disadvantaged and have fewer opportunities and less money than others. The idea of Critical Race Theory is to urge people to build an anti-racist future. The theory believes that the status quo in society is racism, so even if a person is not racist, they are still part of the problem by not doing anything about racism. It purports that in order to actually combat racism, people must be actively anti-racist, otherwise they are guilty of perpetuating the status quo.

The theory has sparked intense controversy in the United States, especially as it has made its way into the nations’s classrooms. Critics are concerned at seeing the Chinese Communist Party promoting it on certain broadcasting stations. This is worrisome because Critical Race Theory has proven to undermine the U.S. national unity. Although China is likely not concerned with racism, using propaganda to cause division in the United States may work to advance their interests.

Another concern is that the social media app TikTok, a state-owned company, could be utilized to promote similar propaganda.

The episode concludes that people who are actually concerned about racism, understand that these cartoons won’t cure racism. Treating people equally, regardless of their skin color, and giving them equal opportunities is what cures racism. Anything that promotes division and separation based on skin color is not in the best interests of curing racism or building up the nation.

Watch the full episode for more information on these issues, as well as recent developments with US sanctions in Iran, and recent protests in China over economic and business developments. 

China in Focus” premiers Monday to Friday—exclusive on EpochTV.

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Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Emily is a writer for The Epoch Times and a freelance political journalist. With an extensive background in Political Communication and Journalism, she is committed to serving her country by bringing the truth about important issues of the day to the American people.