China de facto now controls 15 of the major ports in the world—ports that the Chinese have leased, rebuilt, and refashioned. The Chinese are very farsighted, so these ports are not just random acquisitions. They control the Panama Canal. They monitor the entry into the Mediterranean at Tangiers and the exit at Port Said. The two largest ports in Europe, Antwerp and Rotterdam, are in the hands of the Chinese, as are the artificial islands in the South China Sea, a gateway for 50 percent of global oceanic traffic.
In other words, the Chinese control 15 points at which, in a global crisis, they will be able to shut off trade and access to commercial goods, oil, and food, not to mention the influence they have gained over local governments. China has also invested in concessions of rare earth mining, oil, and other natural resources in Africa. And due to the naive policies of the current U.S. administration, the Chinese are developing very close ties not only with Iran, but also with Saudi Arabia.
China today is creating something very much like the British Empire, although the Chinese are more like the imperialists of the Ottoman Empire than those of the British, in that they are neither apologetic nor shy about what they are doing. If the Chinese have an imperial enclave in Africa, they rope it off and don’t allow Africans nearby. Nor do they allow colonial peoples, for the most part, to go to Beijing and be educated or integrated. Like the Ottomans who conquered Constantinople in 1453, China has a monolithic culture and makes no apologies for its ambition to be a global imperial power.