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Stamping Authority In Southern Hemisphere

China has been constantly trying to expand its influence throughout the globe since the beginning of the 21st Century. Currently, Beijing is making preparations to set up military bases outside of Southeast Asia. According to sources close to the Xi Jinping Administration, the Asian Giant has planned to build those bases in Bata, a port city in the Litoral Province of Equatorial Guinea, and also in Ushuaia, the capital of Argentina’s Antártida e Islas del Atlántico Sur Province.

The top political leadership in Beijing considers Tierra del Fuego as a strategically important place. Building a permanent port in this coastal province would open up access to Antarctica, apart from allowing the Asian Powerhouse to set up surveillance centres at the junction of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Beijing has already stationed its surveillance vessel Yuan Wang 5 near the South African port city of Durban. China has also taken control of Cambodia’s Ream port in exchange for loans to the debt-ridden Southeast Asian nation. In a similar fashion, Beijing is closely monitoring the activities in Hambantota port of Sri Lanka and Iran’s Chabahar port.

As per independent intelligence and media reports, China is eager to establish a gateway to Antarctica by setting up a port at Ushuaia. It may be noted that the southern tip of Argentina is only 1,095km from the Antarctic coast. Reports suggest that Shuiping Tu, an Argentina-based official of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), recently finalised a deal in this regard with Gustavo Melella, the Governor of Tierra del Fuego Province. As per the deal, the proposed area shall only be accessible to the Chinese military personnel.

Talking to the media, Alberto Rojas, the Director of International Affairs Observatory at Chile’s Finis Terrae University, has stressed: “A possible Chinese base in Ushuaia would allow Beijing to have a permanent enclave in the Southern Hemisphere, with a projection toward the South Atlantic, which, depending on the conditions negotiated with Argentina, could allow for the construction of facilities, as well as the presence of naval units and military contingents in this quadrant.” He added: “The Belt and Road (BRI) project announced by China in 2013 seeks to have a clear projection toward this area of the continent. And if this base in Ushuaia materialises, it could become the first of many others, both on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts or the Andean area.

Beijing, currently, has three operational naval bases overseas. The most prominent one is in Djibouti in East Africa. This is China’s first overseas naval base established in 2017. This port was the outcome of Chinese efforts to prevent Somali pirates from attacking cargo ships sailing through the Gulf of Aden. The route connects the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean. The second one is situated in the Cambodian port city of Ream that acts as an important point for Beijing in Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, the third one is under construction in the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous region of Tajikistan. As this port city shares borders with China and Afghanistan, the base shall help China reinforce its presence in Central Asia.

Earlier in 2023, China made a virtually impossible diplomatic achievement by helping to broker a deal between Iran and the US-influenced Saudi Arabia. Beijing also encouraged Iran to resume talks with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These developments have helped China increase its strategic influence in West Asia (or the Middle East). After his recent visit to China, French President Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron hinted at pursuing a foreign policy independent of the US’ influence. Many believe that China has successfully managed to crack Europe’s unity. Only time can tell whether China can stamp its authority across the world.

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