U.S. senators alarmed if China gets control of Djibouti port

Africa
By REUTERS
FILE PHOTO - U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) asks a question of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during Pompeo's appearance before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing titled "An Update on American Diplomacy to Advance Our National Security Strategy" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 25, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two prominent U.S. senators expressed alarm on Tuesday about the military and political consequences if China gains control of a port terminal in Djibouti, and said they were concerned it could further boost Beijing’s influence in East Africa.

In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Chris Coons said they were concerned about Djibouti’s termination of a contract for the Doraleh Container Terminal with United Arab Emirates-based DP World in February and the nationalization of the port in September.

Reports that Djibouti, heavily indebted to Beijing, would likely cede the port’s operations to a Chinese state-owned enterprise were “even more alarming,” they said.

The letter was the latest in a series of efforts by members of Congress who want to counter China’s growing international influence, which they see as a threat to U.S. economic and security interests.

Trump has been focusing on the economic threat from China and has brought the two countries to the brink of a trade war, but many lawmakers want to ensure the administration also treats the country as a security threat.

A tiny nation strategically located at the entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal, Djibouti became home to China’s first overseas military base last year. A U.S. base located just miles away stages operations against Islamic State, al Qaeda and other militant groups.

The letter was the latest in a series of efforts by members of Congress who want to counter China’s growing international influence, which they see as a threat to U.S. economic and security interests.

Trump has been focusing on the economic threat from China and has brought the two countries to the brink of a trade war, but many lawmakers want to ensure the administration also treats the country as a security threat.

A tiny nation strategically located at the entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal, Djibouti became home to China’s first overseas military base last year. A U.S. base located just miles away stages operations against Islamic State, al Qaeda and other militant groups.

REUTERS 

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