Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The US questions China’s interest in Latin American infrastructure in Costa Rica

The Commander Of The United States Southern Command, General Laura Richardson, Met With President Rodrigo Chaves.  Photo: Presidential House

Gen. Laura Richardson, chief of the United States Southern Command, on Monday expressed concern about the potential military use China could make to its key investments in Latin America and the Caribbean countries.

Richardson has been in charge of military operations in South America, Central America and the Caribbean since 2021 and alluded to the China case at a press conference at the Presidential House in San Jose during a visit to the President of the Republic, Rodrigo Chaves.

The 59-year-old general cited the Asian giant’s involvement in the development of “critical infrastructure” such as deep-sea ports, cybertechnology, space investments and 5G networks, but questioned the country’s intentions to be involved in such initiatives.

“What worries me is the dual use capability and the use of that capacity that they have used for eventual military applications if needed,” he said after meeting the president in San Jose.

The Southern Command chief preferred to use the term “extraction” rather than “investment” when referring to the significant inflow of resources from the People’s Republic of China for the development of key projects for countries in the region.

According to Richardson, the context is particularly concerning because China has had the largest military concentration on its mainland in decades, both in terms of conventional forces and nuclear capabilities.

“Why all this investment in critical infrastructure elsewhere in the world, so far from mainland China?” he asked.

According to the general, China’s involvement in these projects has led to delays, cost overruns and design flaws.

“You’re not getting a quality investment,” he concluded.

During his visit to Costa Rica, Richardson announced a $9.8 million investment by the Department of Public Safety over three years to establish a cybersecurity operations center.

He also announced that by the end of 2023, the United States government will assign a full-time strategic advisor to the country to develop national cybersecurity policies and strategies.

This collaboration comes in addition to a previous $25 million donation to Costa Rica to strengthen the country’s digital infrastructure; The Ministry of Science, Innovation, Technology and Telecommunications (Micitt) is responsible for these resources.

Laura Richardson was in San Jose on February 7 where she also announced a $13.7 million donation to help fight drug trafficking, money laundering and human trafficking.

The contribution includes an unmanned aerial system consisting of six long-range Puma drones for counternarcotics operations and border patrols, the commander-in-chief of the US Southern Command said in her last meeting with President Chaves.

At Southern Command, based in Doral, near Miami, Richardson commands more than 1,200 military and civilian personnel from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and other federal agencies.

World Nation News Desk
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