China's Global Port Expansion: A Maritime Security Threat to U.S. Geographic Combatant Commands
NAVAL WAR COLLEGE NEWPORT RI NEWPORT United States
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In October 2013, the Maritime Silk Road focused primarily on the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean however, by 2020, port development interests expanded to the South Pacific, the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic with access to an extensive network of sea lines of communication. Chinas activities invite concerns regarding maritime security in each geographic combatant commands area of responsibility. With a network of ports in 69 countries, China has become a serious threat to U.S. maritime superiority. The dual-use potential of these ports manifests as the COCOMs greatest threat, the civ-mil port conversion. This paper reviews the commercial, political, and military objectives of Beijings port acquisition in a global strategic context, identifies three risks to COCOMs associated with Chinese port infrastructure projects, and examines Chinas acquisition of or access to global strategic locations within each COCOM. The main conclusion is ports 1 being operated, funded, and built by a Chinese firm, 2ports where China owns over 50 percent equity shares, and or 3 ports in strategic locations are vulnerable to exploitation by China as strategic weapons during times of conflict or political impasse.
- Government and Political Science
- Defense Systems