Work on ‘Chinese military base’ in UAE abandoned after US intervention – report | China

U.S. intelligence services this year found evidence of construction work on what they believed was a secret Chinese military facility in the United Arab Emirates, which was stopped after Washington’s intervention, according to a report Friday.

The Wall Street Journal reported that satellite images of the port of Khalifa had revealed suspicious construction work inside a container terminal built and operated by a Chinese shipping company, Cosco.

The evidence included large excavations apparently for a multi-storey building and the fact that the site was covered by an apparent attempt to evade investigation.

The Biden administration had urgent talks with UAE authorities, who appeared to be unaware of the military activities, according to the report. It said the discussions included two directional talks between Joe Biden and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in May and August.

In late September, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and White House Middle East Coordinator Brett McGurk visited the UAE and presented the details of the U.S. intelligence service to the Emirati authorities, where McGurk returned this week for to meet. the Crown Prince. After U.S. officials recently inspected the Khalifa site, construction work was suspended, the report said.

The report comes four years after the Chinese navy established a plant in Djibouti, its first overseas base, which was located in a Chinese-run commercial port in Doraleh.

The United Arab Emirates’ embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but told the Wall Street Journal: “The United Arab Emirates has never had an agreement plan, negotiations or intention to host a Chinese military base or outpost of any kind. . “

“The Emirates have said this is not happening,” a senior U.S. official said. “I refer you to Emiratis for this specific project. But I can tell you that we are committed to our lasting partnership between the United States and the UAE.”

The UAE report is the latest example of an increasingly acute global rivalry between the United States and China. On the same day, the Foreign Ministry warned Beijing that the United States would intervene to defend Philippine ships in the event of an armed Chinese attack following an incident in which Chinese naval vessels used water cannons against Philippine supply boats in the South China Sea.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ned Price called the Chinese action “dangerous, provocative and unjustified”.

Beijing “should not interfere in legal Philippine activities in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone,” Price said in a statement. “The United States stands with our Philippine allies in maintaining the rule-based international maritime order and reaffirms that an armed attack on Philippine public ships in the South China Sea would invoke the United States’ mutual defense obligations.”

The White House Coordinator for Indo-Pacific, Kurt Campbell, said: “The most important feature of the relationship between the United States and China right now is competition, and we are competing everywhere.”

“We believe that it is possible to compete responsibly in a healthy way, but at the same time the president recognizes that it will be important to try to establish some crash barriers … that will prevent the relationship from moving into dangerous confrontation arenas,” Campbell said at the U.S. Institute for Peace Friday.

Campbell said Biden and Xi Jinping at their virtual summit earlier this week agreed on preliminary steps toward establishing talks between officials from both countries with the aim of reducing the risk of accidental conflict or miscalculation, especially when came to nuclear weapons.

“What we want to do … is involve China in discussions about what we would do if we faced some kind of unintentional action,” he said. “We are in the very early stages of such discussions, and I think it would be fair to say that President Xi stated that they would at least participate in the discussion that we would potentially identify who the real people would be. be to it. a kind of discussion, and it might involve people on the military side and also other parts of our governments. “

Campbell said Biden had also sought negotiations on both nations’ nuclear policies, but suggested that Xi had not yet agreed to such discussions.

“We just want to have a very general discussion on what we might call doctrinal issues about… certain steps that you can take in the nuclear realm [that] would be potentially destabilizing, ”he said. “China has never before been interested in arms control. They have generally been reluctant to talk about operational constraints. And they have been very careful about revealing anything related to key features of their defensive position and the like. So I think we go into this thoroughly.

“I was in the meeting,” Campbell added. “I think President Xi stated that he was prepared for some of this, but I think it will have to be tested over time.”

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