China is trying to persuade Equatorial Guinea to allow them to build a military base off their coast, according to a report — a move that would give Beijing a foothold in the Atlantic and cause great concern to Washington.
US intelligence believes that Xi Jinping, the president of China, hopes to convince the president of the West African nation, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, to expand an existing port in the city of Bata and convert it into a military base. to stand.
If China converted the port of Bata into a military base, Beijing would be able to repair and rearm its warships and other naval equipment in the same waters as the US east coast.
“As part of our diplomacy to address maritime security issues, we have made clear to Equatorial Guinea that certain potential steps [Chinese] activity there would raise national security concerns,” a senior Biden administration official told The Wall Street Journal on Sunday.
Officials have previously put forward a Chinese military base in Atlantic waters as a nightmare scenario for the United States amid tensions between the two nations over Taiwan and the origins of COVID.
China has only one overseas military base, in Djibouti, in East Africa, which it opened in 2017. It lies on the other side of the African continent and overlooks the waters of the Gulf of Aden.
In 2009, China upgraded a commercial port in Equatorial Guinea, in the city of Bata – the largest city on the mainland. The country’s capital, Malabo, is located on an island an hour’s flight from the mainland.
Jonathan Finer, the deputy national security adviser, meets with the vice president and son of the president, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue on Oct. 19
In October, Joe Biden’s deputy national security adviser, Jonathan Finer, was sent to Equatorial Guinea to speak with the president about the matter.
The 79-year-old president, Africa’s longest-serving leader who has ruled the country for 42 years, sent his son and presumed heir to meet Finer.
Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the 53-year-old vice president and world traveler international face of the regime, posted a video to Instagram where he met Finer on October 19 and thanked him for visiting.
He then tweeted a photo of the silver tray that Finer gave him.
A week later, he then tweeted photos of himself meeting a Chinese delegation and thanking them for supporting his country.
A high-level delegation from Equatorial Guinea will travel to Senegal at the end of this month to attend the China-Africa Forum, he confirmed.
The meeting is likely to be watched very closely in Washington.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, 79 – Africa’s longest-serving leader – is seen meeting Xi Jinping in Beijing in September 2018. China would like to open military base in Equatorial Guinea
In April, US Africa Command commander General Stephen Townsend testified before the Senate that China’s “main threat” would be “a militarily useful naval facility on Africa’s Atlantic coast.”
He added: ‘By military useful I mean more than a place where they can make port visits and get gas and groceries.
“I’m talking about a harbor where they can rearm with ammunition and repair naval ships.”
Two months later, Major General Andrew Rohling, commander of the US Army’s Southern European Task Force – Africa, said the US is concerned “that the Chinese would develop a naval base in Equatorial Guinea, which would allow them to have a naval presence.” get on the Atlantic.’
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Biden administration tells Equatorial Guinea it would be unwise to get involved in the tensions between the US and China.
They highlight how the US can be helpful — sending aid after a seemingly accidental munitions explosion destroyed an army base near Bata, killing 100 — and highlighting how much the country’s oil industry relies on American technology.
The US, however, is treading a thin line: The Obians are known for their luxury and excess, as well as for showing off human rights.
“Teddy Nguema,” as the president’s son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, is known on Instagram, was accused by US prosecutors of siphoning more than $300 million
The 53-year-old presumed heir to the presidency regularly posts photos of himself in luxury locations, like this private jet
The president’s son meets Pope Francis, in an image uploaded to his Instagram
Nguema Obiang enjoys his jet set life and powerful acquaintances
In 2014, US prosecutors forced Nguema Obiang to forfeit a Malibu mansion and Ferrari, among others
US government lawyers accused the president’s son – whose Instagram account shows him meeting world leaders such as the Pope and the Prime Minister of Israel; playing polo or posing in a private jet – amassing a fortune of more than $300 million “through corruption and money laundering.”
The money came into his accounts while he was making less than $100,000 a year as the secretary of agriculture and forestry.
In a 2014 settlement, he surrendered to the federal government the proceeds of a Malibu mansion, a Ferrari and other assets.
This fall, the Justice Department announced it would return $26.6 million of surrendered assets to Equatorial Guinea in the form of COVID-19 vaccines and other medical aid, bypassing the government.
China is now known to ask fewer questions.
President Obiang has ruled Equatorial Guinea since the coup in 1979
According to data from the Chinese government, Chinese state-owned companies have built 100 commercial ports around Africa in the past two decades.
US diplomats in Mauritania, on Africa’s northwest coast, have advised local authorities to reject any attempt by Beijing to use a port built in China for military purposes, a US official said.
In a report to Congress this year, the Pentagon said China has “probably considered” African bases in Kenya, the Seychelles, Tanzania and Angola.
“China isn’t just building a military base like the US,” said Paul Nantulya, a research associate at the Pentagon-funded Africa Center for Strategic Studies.
He told the paper: ‘The Chinese model is very, very different.
“It combines both civil and security elements.”