In-Depth

'China Owns, Partially Owns, or Operates 93 Ports'

Council on Foreign Relations

Task Force Report on China’s Belt & Road
'China Owns, Partially Owns, or Operates 93 Ports'
'China Owns, Partially Owns, or Operates 93 Ports'
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March 31, 2021
BIG IDEA | ‘Chinese firms own, partially own, or operate at least ninety-three ports across the globe.’

‘Chinese firms own, partially own, or operate at least ninety-three ports across the globe.’

  • ‘Firms with close ties to the CCP own and operate many of these ports, which are concentrated near maritime chokepoints and critical sea lines of communication.’

‘BRI is a tool to expand this influence.’

  • ‘Under the auspices of BRI, Chinese banks have financed numerous ports around the world, while Chinese firms have retained ownership stakes in these ports.’

‘Companies closely tied to the Chinese government finance, construct, and operate overseas ports as part of BRI.’

  • ‘By financing, constructing, and operating this vast network of overseas ports, China has gained varying degrees of control over major maritime commercial facilities, and Beijing recognizes the value of these facilities.’
  • ‘Opportunities for consequential intelligence collection are higher at ports that serve as terminuses for undersea cable communications systems, and are likely to be especially high at port facilities operated by China that serve as terminals for Chinese-built undersea cable systems.’

‘China has no formal military alliances and currently has only one small overseas military base in Djibouti, used primarily to support counterpiracy and peacekeeping operations.’

  • ‘China does not appear to be seeking a U.S.-style network of overseas bases and access agreements, nor does it yet have in place the operational concepts and organization to sustain large overseas military operations.’
  • ‘Instead, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could rely on access to a variety of commercial port facilities to support its operations and logistics overseas.’

‘China’s port control could have major strategic implications for host nations and for the United States.’

  • ‘If the host is a U.S. treaty ally, its self-defense or wider regional contingencies could rely on the United States’ ability to flow logistics in crisis or conflict.’
  • ‘If that port is owned or operated by a Chinese entity with close ties to the government, Beijing could apply pressure, preventing or delaying the host country’s reception of military logistics and supplies necessary for defense.’

‘The COVID-19 pandemic is unlikely to change Beijing’s maritime ambitions.’

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