Home » Budget Industry » SOUTHCOM Tidd: China Making Aggressive Investments in South, Central America

SOUTHCOM Tidd: China Making Aggressive Investments in South, Central America

U.S. Southern Command Commander, U.S. Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd speaks on Dec. 17, 2017. US Army Photo

Chinese businesses are exploring land development deals near the Panama Canal and offering their skills in building the region’s information technology infrastructure. These are prime examples of Beijing’s stepped-up economic involvement in the Western Hemisphere, the senior American military official for Central and South America told reporters Monday.

Speaking at a Pentagon press session, Adm. Kurt Tidd said the “economic competition” with the United States in Central and South America and the Caribbean is a demonstration of how other nations, including Russia and Iran, seek openings and influence in countries historically and physically close to the United States.

Their goal, “is to undermine our partnerships,” he said.

As an example, last summer, Panama broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan under pressure from China and established them with Beijing. Since then, one project the Chinese started, with a Belgian firm, is building a port and terminal for cruise ships near the entrance to the Panama Canal.

“The transparency of financial dealings [with the Chinese] are not always evident,” and that causes some nations to shy away from complex transactions with Beijing, he said.

When asked whether he thought it possible for Beijing is looking to build a base in the Western Hemisphere, as it has recently done in the Horn of Africa, “It’s something always worth paying attention to,” Tidd said.
“We can’t take [countries in Southern Command area of responsibility] for granted.”
He did note the strong military-to-military relationships the United States has with Colombia, Brazil, Chile and Argentina.

Tidd said, answering a question about increased coca production in Colombia since the signing of a peace treaty with leftist guerrillas in December 2016 that “the level of commitment is at the very highest levels of Colombia’s government” and in the army and national police to curb narcotics production and distribution.

The U.N. reported areas of cultivation increased more than 50 percent to 456,000 acres from 2016 to 2017.

“It should come as no great surprise” that the coca production would rise as the government establishes control in areas once held by the FARC rebels, who waged a decades-long civil war with the Bogota government.

He added American military personnel assistance to the Colombian is less at the tactical level and more at the institutional. That includes connectivity for operations, specialized training and information sharing. He described the security forces in Colombia as “very, very experienced.”

“I think we’re seeing some significant progress” in that area.

As he told the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, the biggest challenge he faces is “to be able to see and understand and influence” the shifting nature of narcotics, weapons, money-laundering and people-trafficking. His biggest need was more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets and medium-endurance Coast Guard cutters.

At the press briefing, Tidd added that the trafficking crosses all domains — not air, sea and ground, but especially cyber for illegal financial transactions and money laundering.

Tidd said there has been a growing awareness in the region of the dangers of radicalization among young people who could be drawn to extremists such as the Islamic State. He said the countries are also very aware of the threat posed by those returning from Syria and Iraq. It became clearer to nations in his command area that the threat was not distant but inside their borders following the discovery of 100 or so Trinidad and Tobago residents who were propagandizing for back-home consumption and fighting alongside the Islamic extremists.

In looking back at the devastation of the past hurricane season, Tidd said, “None of our clocks [in the military and response agencies such as the Agency for International Development] move fast enough” to help the people who are directly affected.

Although the military does not identify the requirements needed to respond to the natural disaster, “commanders are expected to be leaning as far forward as possible,” and SOUTHCOM is. He added in answer to another question, “you can never have too much” heavy lift capacity to meet those crises.

  • D. Jones

    We could build a pretty decent wall for the cost of the LCS program. Pretty clear South & Central America will continue to pour homegrown and Chinese drugs into the US via land, sea & air. Slow down the ground game with a wall and start freeing up ROE for ships & planes encountering drug runners.

  • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

    Guess China is making strategic investments long term instead of like, the US, growing a massive government and welfare state to the tune of 20 trillion and wasting time in the Middle East.

    That is what happens when you don’t ignore fiscal sanity. Something that left DC many moons ago.

  • Jonesy

    We can easily stop of this chinese buffoonerly by stopping ALL imports for six months (they’ll be screaming for mercy by month 3, but their economy will crash by month 5).

    • incredulous1

      and pulling the currency rug out from under them. They also need to be kicked off the UN Security Council for violating its own sanctions repeatedly and refusing to recognize the CPA in the Hague. And we have to do this BEFORE they get real aircraft carriers and fighter jets. Else they will respond as Japan did in 1941 to all the sanctions and punishment.

  • R’ Yitzchak M

    Ukraine? Georgia? Latvia? Lithuania? Yugoslavia, Syria wanton destruction?

    .. why not?

    Oh yes our mercenaries are “freedom fighters” and theirs are.. “not”? George Orwell’s “doublespeak” in Orwell’s masterpiece “1984” tried to caution world of impending creation – impending of the “New World Order” conflict with “Euroasia” bureaucratical take over of all instruments of power FBI, NSA, IRS.. ask the “Tea Party” members on the extent and the gross abuse of power by the bureaucrats to establish a single party system of “ESTABLISHED” aristocrats.

    That ensuing war against the rights of its citizens and the framework and the VERY ESSENCE of the constitutional limitation under which they are obligated to operate. Today constitution becomes increasingly IRRELEVANT. “Open Borders”? Spying on its own citizens.. in order to BLACKMAIL and to destroy the office of THE ELECTED President of the United States. Even “Banana Contries” gave a some resistance to this kind of shenanigan “revolution” of the arrogant few.

  • Hugh

    China is working towards global control, following their rules! A huge threat!

    • incredulous1

      That is absolutely correct. And everyone should read their China’s papers on the First Island Chain and the Second Island Chain to see what the “Chinese Dream” really is. It goes far beyond their shiny mercantile object of “One Belt, One Road” Not a year goes by when they are not coercing someone to give away their sovereignty and territory to China in this grand scheme.

      • Hugh

        I hear they also have a 3rd Island Chain!

    • R’ Yitzchak M

      And we are not..?

  • b2

    Invoke the Monroe Doctrine. Last president to do so was TR down there…
    Of course even though South/Central America chaff at us Yanquis, that doctrine has kept them “secure” for over 200 years…. 200 years… The only wars they have fought have been with each other and against their own peoples…
    Now they look forward to inviting the CHICOMS to get a toehold.. just more hand-dog-bite.

  • incredulous1

    Before long the Chicoms will be building a large military base at the Panama Canal Zone just like they did in Djibouti under the auspices of the coalition anti-piracy mission to which they were not even a party. The same MO has played out elsewhere as we have all seen. We gave away the Panama Canal and they simply want it. The UK gave away Hong Kong which helped China [HK is NOT “autonomous”] establish their mercantile footing and is the world’s busiest hub together with Shanghai “earning” them all this money for expansion and military build up. THIS IS NOT BENIGN FOLKS.

    • R’ Yitzchak M

      It was a R.R. that let the Brits down big time.. no NATO supporting GREAT Britain while caving to the China’s the most propostorous demands it is our petty intra-alliance bickering that empowered all our enemies. It started by Woodrow Wilson envy of British Navy and program to diminish British strategic stance, French strategic standing.. of course diminishing “them” is diminishing OUR combined strength. It is remarkable idiocy and a myopic vision that is sinking our potential response vis a vis our enemies. Notwithstanding the CNN or FOX make it believe efforts to creat somewhat “rosy poetry”?

  • R’ Yitzchak M

    China took 25 years to prepare it built cities, roads, in order to evolve into its own domestic market. 1.7 billion customers they can literally ECLYPSE the whole global market without a glitch. Check the Harvard Business magazine just few months ago

  • R’ Yitzchak M

    If anything EVER could bring some balance in rapidly deteriorating “relationship” with Chinese Communist regime. Is our relationship with Taiwan. If there is inevitable conflagration due to ever growing Communist appetite, it should be on our terms and our vital STRATEGIC INTERESTS Taiwan being democracy is one thing might or might not be the “risk wort taking..” but sovereign country to be given to the arrogant aggressor is only encouraging as well it is legitimizing all other ensuing claims.

    If China is to be challenged it has to be over Taiwan and right now.. tomorrow that opportunity would be lost forever.

    We are not.. we are now in similar strategic position to the Japan’s in 1930’s
    China is eclipsing its military by the security forces with much larger budget of at least 20% larger spending over its military (yesterday’s Wall Street Journal China spends 1.24 trillion Yuan 190 billion US Dollars or 6.1% of its total national budget while on defence it spend spent “only” 1.02 trillion Yuan) imagine WW2’s German Gestapo units were worse nightmare to the allies than a common foot soldiers.. so China is thinking ahead not just to occupy targeted nations but to permanently take control over it. Something they very successfully done with Tibet by depopulating locals sending them and spreading them all over the China. So disproportionate buildup of its “security forces” have much more creative strategy that meets the eye. Taiwan challenge would prevent it to benefit by the luxury and the utility of time.. Perhaps would allow Hong Kong wisdom to take lot smarter path toward seem to be inevitable global “ownership”?

  • Donald Carey

    It will be interesting to see how the Chinese deal with the deeply ingrained culture of corruption that pervades Latin America. The whole area would benefit vastly (as would the Chinese), if they could effectively eliminate it. I wish them luck, they’ll NEED it.

  • old guy

    SURPRISE! They have been doing it for the last 8 Obamination years, UNCHECKED.