Wednesday, March 15, 2006

What the hell is China's military doing in South America?

Is anyone else even mildly disturbed by this?

China is stepping up military training in Latin America because of a law that limits U.S. military support to nations in the region, the general in charge of the U.S. Southern Command told Congress yesterday.

[...] The growing Chinese role comes amid numerous high-level visits by its leaders and other activities aimed at building military and economic ties to leftist governments and other states in a strategic region long-considered within the U.S. sphere of influence.

China is the only nation state whose military capabilities can come close to ours that is not an ally. I don't want them propping up little Latin American dictator puppets. Fortunately the Senate Armed Services Committee is considering repealing the ban so we can help some of the countries more sympathetic to US policies like Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia.

[...] Chinese military inroads are accompanying greater economic involvement. Last year, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the region and economic agreements worth hundreds of millions of dollars for mineral and energy resources followed.

Less is known about arms sales, however, China recently offered to sell new shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to the leftist government in Bolivia. The Chinese have supplied military equipment to Cuba and are cooperating with Brazil on a joint satellite project thought to have military applications.

China has also offered to sell its new FC-1 jet fighter to Venezuela, after last year's sale of three JYL-1 mobile air-defense radar units.

Larry Wortzel, a former Pentagon intelligence official, said China recently dispatched a delegation of Second Artillery officers to Cuba. The artillery unit is China's strategic and tactical missile force, and the visit raises questions about whether Cuba is acquiring missiles.

An eight-member military delegation to Cuba earlier this month was led by Lt. Gen. Peng Xiaofeng, political commissar of the Second Artillery forces.

"We know almost nothing" about Chinese military and intelligence activities in the region, a Pentagon official said.

Mexico is also being courted. Last year, three of the nine members of the ruling Communist Party of China Politburo Standing Committee, the collective dictatorship that rules China, visited Mexico.

Forget Cuba. Castro will hopefully die here shortly, and then we can play around a little bit with their politics to help bring a more democratically minded government into power there. But Mexico? Don't we have enough trouble with Mexico smuggling their poor people and drugs into the country? We certainly don't need China arming Mexico.