Construction halted on secret project at Chinese port in UAE after pressure from US, officials say

The port project has been the main target of a flurry of diplomatic engagements in latest months by senior US officials and distinguished lawmakers on Capitol Hill and has doubtlessly jeopardized the sale of superior American jet fighters and different superior munitions to the UAE. “Last we checked, we had successfully convinced the Emiratis to shut down the project,” mentioned one supply accustomed to the intelligence. “But it’s still a live issue.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported that building on the power had been halted.
US officials for at least a 12 months have been intently watching the development of what they believed was a navy facility contained in the business Khalifa port, about 50 miles from the UAE capital. The United States considers the UAE a key associate in counterterrorism efforts in the area and has 1000’s of troops primarily based at an Emirati air base 20 miles outdoors of Abu Dhabi.
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Although China — and the UAE — portrayed the port enterprise as purely business, US intelligence has noticed ships disguised as business vessels that officials acknowledged as a kind sometimes utilized by the Chinese navy for indicators intelligence assortment getting into the port, in line with two sources accustomed to the intelligence. Officials stay divided over how a lot the UAE knew about China’s intentions. A spokesman for the UAE Embassy in Washington mentioned in a press release that the UAE “never had an agreement, plan, talks or intention to host a Chinese military base or outpost of any kind.” The US National Security Council declined to remark. The Chinese Embassy didn’t reply to a request for remark.

China creating ports around the globe

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China has sought to develop business ports in outposts around the globe in what US officials see as a transparent effort to develop a foothold for navy entry. China has developed business ports in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, in addition to constructed its first abroad navy base in Djibouti in 2017.
Both the Trump administration and the Biden administration have sought to pressure the UAE to place a cease to the project at the port, which is run by a Chinese transport conglomerate. Senior US lawmakers additionally addressed the port project with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, throughout a go to to the area in June. Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the highest Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, mentioned in a tweet that he had mentioned “our mutual concern regarding Chinese military activities in the Middle East” with bin Zayed. Even although building on the secretive improvement contained in the port has now apparently been stopped, present and former officials say the broader Chinese presence in the nation nonetheless might endanger the deliberate $23 billion sale of F-35 jets, Reaper drones and different superior munitions, two sources accustomed to the matter defined.

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“The F-35 is our crown jewel. We need to be able to protect technology and security for all of our partners,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mira Resnick advised CNN earlier this week. “Those are the conversations we are having with Emiratis about what kind of choices they can make now, to make sure they can be part of the F-35 program.” Still, that the Biden administration was in a position to cease the power from being constructed represents a key diplomatic victory in its efforts to compete with China on the worldwide stage, present and former officials say. They level to leverage created by each negotiations on the F-35 — which can now ease ahead — and the signing of the Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and a few Gulf nations, together with the UAE, beneath President Donald Trump. “I am thrilled with this development today,” Inhofe wrote. “I look forward to making sure the Biden admin continues productive conversations w/ our Emirati friends about advancing the F-35 sale, which would build our long-term relationship.” On Tuesday, Resnick advised reporters in a briefing that the United States stays the “partner of choice of all our allies in the region.” “None of the strategic competitors are able, they’re not capable or willing to offer what the United States offers. So our partners and allies are well aware of that, and that is why they consistently choose the United States,” she mentioned.

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