Construction Shut Down in UAE Port After Pressure from the US Regarding China

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Robison Wells
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The United States continues to monitor construction in a shipping port near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The US Embassy pressured construction to halt amid evidence of secret Chinese involvement.

"Last we checked, we had successfully convinced the Emiratis to shut down the project," said one source familiar with the Wall Street Journal's intelligence. "But it's still a live issue."

Port surveillance by the United States goes back for over a year. US agents believe that the construction of a secret Chinese military base proceeds inside the Khalifa port. With friendly relations between the UAE and thousands of US troops stationed within 20 miles of the port, US officials fear hostile action on the part of China.

China claims that, since the shutdown, they used the port purely for commercial purposes; however, two sources claim that signals intelligence ships disguised as commercial vessels frequent the port.

A spokesman for the UAE Embassy in Washington said in a statement that the UAE "never had an agreement, plan, talks or intention to host a Chinese military base or outpost of any kind."

Precedent exists for this construction project, say sources. China built clandestine military intelligence ports in Sri Lanka and Djibouti.

The Chinese construction, if genuine, could jeopardize a deal negotiated for the sale of F-35 jets for $23 billion.

"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 told 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."

Clandestine construction of a secret military base near Abu Dhabi strains relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China.

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