Canton (Kanton), a small 3.6 square mile island in the Pacific Ocean, once served as an important transit and supply centre for the United States during World War II, and has now become the target of the CCP’s expansion after being abandoned for over 40 years.
Canton Island is a coral atoll belonging to the Republic of Kiribati. Canton Airport served as a United States Air Force airbase during World War II. Its runways were used by Army and US bombers as part of the “air ferry” route from Hawaii to the South Pacific.
Kiribati is a Pacific Ocean island nation comprised of 32 atolls covering more than 1.4 million square miles.
The Kiribati parliament revealed in May that the CCP was considering rehabilitating Canton Island’s derelict airstrip and bridge, as well as restoring the remaining US military base.
Although the Kiribati government stated that the facility upgrade programme is for civilian purposes such as promoting transportation and tourism on the island, hardware facilities will also be used for military purposes, making the programme controversial.
Canton Island’s runway is about 6,200 feet long, and if repaired and upgraded, the total length of the runway could exceed 7,800 feet. The US military believes that once the existing runway is upgraded, it will be capable of accommodating combat aircraft, as well as large transport aircraft, maritime patrol aircraft, and bomber aircraft. That is why the CCP’s plan to expand the Canton airport has piqued the public’s interest.
The United States Defense Directive on China Task, issued in February, referred to Beijing as the “number one pacing challenge” to Washington’s strategic pace. “China poses the greatest long-term challenge to the United States,” the Pentagon’s 2022 budget proposal concluded.
Canton Island’s sensitive location emphasises its strategic importance in the US-China struggle for Pacific dominance.
If Chinese military forces invade Kiribati and establish Canton Island as an army base, the small island, which is less than 2,000 miles southwest of Hawaii and 4,300 miles from the United States, will be devastated. The West Coast could become a thorn in the side of the United States. The Pacific fleet. The CCP could also use the geographical location to spy on the US military. The tiny island could also pose a direct threat to US and allied forces stationed on Guam.
If it becomes a CCP military presence in the heart of the Pacific, it would have almost no chance of survival in a hot war. The economic benefits to Kiribati would be insignificant in comparison to the risks it could pose.
“It’s a civilian project, but we are concerned about China’s main intention,” Tessie Lambourne, the leader of Kiribati’s main opposition party, told SCMP. Concerned about Beijing’s military intentions, she questioned why the government had not clarified how the CCP would fund the project: “We know that China’s intention is not purely to help developing countries like ours, but to help us in a way that will ultimately help them with their
The public and opposition parties in Kiribati have been kept in the dark about Beijing’s plans to renovate and expand this remote and worn-out airport. Under the guise of economic development and climate change adaptation, the project could provide Beijing with the equivalent of a stationary aircraft carrier capable of supporting combat aircraft deployment and a full range of military operations, including surveillance and potential combat operations.
Beijing established its first overseas military base in Djibouti in early 2017. To gain the support of the host government, the CCP used a strategic investment portfolio and diplomacy to buy off the local elite.
The CCP’s global expansion ambitions have manifested themselves in Indo-Pacific countries as well. For example, the US government has been aware of the CCP’s desire to establish a military outpost at Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base in the Gulf of Thailand since 2020.
Satellite imagery reveals that construction at Ream Naval Base is moving quickly. However, when the U.S. When Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Ruth Sherman visited Phnom Penh, she discovered that some US-funded construction projects had been demolished. Since then, US military attachés in Cambodia have been denied access to certain areas of Ream Naval Base during Cambodian government-assisted inspections of the base. The Cambodian side’s lack of transparency has raised suspicions that the CCP is involved in upgrading the Ream base, allowing Beijing to project its power into the Indian Ocean.
Along with Cambodia, Beijing hopes to establish a military base in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In 2018, the UAE and the CCP signed a $300 million agreement to upgrade COSCO Shipping’s cargo terminal in Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa port. The cargo terminal is close to the Al-Dhafra airbase, where 3,500 US military personnel are stationed, as well as the port of Jebel Ali in Dubai, where the majority of US visitors arrive. Navy ships can be found in countries other than the United States.
The establishment of a base in the UAE would significantly increase the CCP’s presence in and around maritime chokepoints such as the Strait of Hormuz and the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The UAE base could also become part of a network of potential Chinese military bases in the Indian Ocean, including Pakistan and Burma.
According to the Wall Street Journal, US intelligence agencies monitored two CCP planes that unloaded unidentified cargo in the UAE in May. According to some US officials, the CCP intends to establish a naval base in the UAE. Furthermore, intelligence reports indicate that China has discussed sending hundreds of military personnel to the UAE. According to a 2020 Pentagon report (pdf) on Chinese military expansion, the CCP is likely already considering expanding overseas military logistics facilities, with the UAE being one of the desired countries. Their suspected interactions could jeopardise the United States’ sale of F-35 fighter jets to the UAE, and Washington is concerned that the UAE could share sensitive fighter technology with the Chinese Communist Party.
Stephen Townsend, the top general for the United States, resigned in early May. Africa Command has issued a warning about Beijing’s desire to construct an important naval port on Africa’s Atlantic coast to accommodate submarines or aircraft carriers, thereby increasing the threat to the US military in the Atlantic. According to Townsend, the CCP is already reaching out to southern African countries ranging from Mauritania to Namibia in order to build naval facilities. This plan, if implemented, would allow the CCP to provide base support for its naval forces in the Atlantic.
The CCP creates barriers to the United States’ global military strategy by building overseas military bases under the guise of economic and civilian construction, so the issue can not be handled solely by the United States. Defense Department
The CCP’s global military base expansion is visible and showing signs of further expansion in the Indo-Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, and even the Arctic. The essence of halting the CCP’s global expansion ambitions, however, is not a clash of military might, but of influence over local host governments. Weakening host countries’ acceptance of CCP bases or breaking military ties with the CCP is one area where the US could leverage resource advantages over the CCP.