U.S. ambassador to El Salvador Jean Manes in early July told a U.S. news website MintPress News that China’s investment in the Port of La Union “is not only investment in a port, but then they want to do something with their military and they want to expand Chinese influence in the region (Central America).” The Port of La Union is located in eastern El Salvador. “It is a strategic matter and we all need to keep our eyes open to what is happening,” said Manes.
On Tuesday, a month from then, China announced that it is establishing formal ties with El Salvador, which was a diplomatic ally of Taiwan. El Salvador immediately severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan. The South China Morning Post of Hong Kong reported on Wednesday that the United States sees China’s establishment of diplomatic relations with El Salvador as more than a means to pressure Taiwan and as a move to increase China’s military presence in Central America. The United States is reportedly concerned about the possibility that China would use the port for military purposes. After the announcement, Jean Manes tweeted that the decision will impact U.S.’ relationship with the government of El Salvador.
Against this backdrop, China announced plans to make large-scale investments in El Salvador. China has been discussing with El Salvador about business opportunities not just at the port, but at the country’s international airport and its railways, according to an official of El Salvador.
China built its first overseas military base in Djibouti, Africa last year. It is allegedly seeking to build a military base in the Pakistan Port Gwadar that has been developed by China. It is noteworthy that eight out of 17 countries that still maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan are in Central America. Critics say China is seeking to increase its presence in Central America and at the same time isolate Taiwan by establishing diplomatic ties with Taiwan’s diplomatic allies adjacent to El Salvador, such as Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Wan-Jun Yun email@example.com