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China may be trying to take over a critical US air base in the Atlantic

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  • China may be trying to take over a critical US air base in the Atlantic

    An interesting article. When we "pivot west" we might find someone has filled the vacuum in the Atlantic.

    Here, China has offered to fill the gap. Three years ago, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made a stopover in Terceira, an episode whose context author and longtime Asia expert Gordon Chang described:
    On June 27 [2012] a plane carrying Wen Jiabao made a “technical” stop on the island of Terceira, in the Azores … Wen’s Terceira walkabout, which followed a four-nation visit to South America, largely escaped notice at the time, but alarm bells should have immediately gone off in Washington and in European capitals. For one thing, Wen’s last official stop on the trip was Santiago, the capital of Chile. Flights from Chile to China normally cross the Pacific, not the Atlantic, so there was no reason for his plane to be near the Azores.

    Moreover, those who visit the Azores generally favor other islands in the out-of-the-way chain. Terceira, however, has one big attraction for Beijing: Air Base No. 4. Better known as Lajes Field, the facility where Premier Wen’s 747 landed in June is jointly operated by the U.S. Air Force and its Portuguese counterpart. If China controlled the base, the Atlantic would no longer be secure. From the 10,865-foot runway on the northeast edge of the island, Chinese planes could patrol the northern and central portions of the Atlantic and thereby cut air and sea traffic between the US and Europe. Beijing would also be able to deny access to the nearby Mediterranean Sea.

    And China could target the American homeland. Lajes is less than 2,300 miles from New York, shorter than the distance between Pearl Harbor and Los Angeles.
    Losing Lajes — especially to the Chinese — confirms cross-administration shortsightedness that increasingly puts North Atlantic and US security at risk. Almost a decade ago, the Defense Department closed the US Naval Air Station in Keflavik, Iceland. The Cold War was over, both the Pentagon and Langley insisted, ignoring both Russia’s military build-up and its reversion to a Cold War posture. The Keflavik base was once vital to secure shipping routes and trace Soviet submarines.
    LINK

  • #2
    Seems extremely alarmist to me. How is a Chinese stopover a sign that they're going to take the base over? Assuming they even wanted to it's an active Portugese/USAF facility. Even if the US were to leave why on Earth would the Portuguese ever allow the PLAAF to operate from their territory? I doubt NATO would allow that even if for some strange reason Portugal would. None of the things this article is suggesting make sense to me.
    "Artillery lends dignity to what might otherwise be a vulgar brawl." - Frederick the Great

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    • #3
      Seems extremely alarmist to me. How is a Chinese stopover a sign that they're going to take the base over? Assuming they even wanted to it's an active Portugese/USAF facility. Even if the US were to leave why on Earth would the Portuguese ever allow the PLAAF to operate from their territory? I doubt NATO would allow that even if for some strange reason Portugal would. None of the things this article is suggesting make sense to me.
      They are a major exporter and have interests in improvident trade just about everywhere. Europe might be a bit hard up for cash but no NATO member is going to offer Chinese operation rights from their territory without first getting the OK from the rest of the alliance.
      History is not tragedy; to understand historical reality, it is sometimes better to not know the end of the story.

      Pierre Vidal-Naquet

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      • #4
        Originally posted by PitchRate View Post
        An interesting article. When we "pivot west" we might find someone has filled the vacuum in the Atlantic.

        LINK
        I don't buy that article. I am including the link for the base web page and it just does not look like it's in the process of being shut down anytime soon.

        http://www.lajes.af.mil/
        Give me a fast ship and the wind at my back for I intend to sail in harms way! (John Paul Jones)

        Initiated Chief Petty Officer
        Hard core! Old School! Deal with it!

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        • #5
          Good points guys. Thanks.

          Bob

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          • #6
            Keflavik may be officially closed, but when I passed through last May, there were two USN P3 Orions parked on the ramp.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by frisco17 View Post
              Seems extremely alarmist to me. How is a Chinese stopover a sign that they're going to take the base over? Assuming they even wanted to it's an active Portugese/USAF facility. Even if the US were to leave why on Earth would the Portuguese ever allow the PLAAF to operate from their territory? I doubt NATO would allow that even if for some strange reason Portugal would. None of the things this article is suggesting make sense to me.
              An alarming article need not make sense. It only need be alarming..

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