International politics: The United States is concerned about China’s “growing influence” on Mauritius

As negotiations continue between Mauritius and the United Kingdom over the return of the Chagos, the Pentagon has informed the British of the sense of fear that drives it. He is worried about China’s growing influence in Mauritius. The United States fears that this will threaten the security of its military base in Diego Garcia and the Indo-Pacific region.

Representative Mike Waltz, the Republican chairman of the House Military Preparedness Subcommittee, wrote to the Department of Defense on December 19, 2022. He wanted assurances that the deal would not allow China to interfere with the US base of Diego Garcia.

The Pentagon, through his Undersecretary of Defense Colin Kahl, responded on March 17, 2023 that he shared Mike Waltz’s concerns about China’s growing influence. But he also claimed to be working with the UK to protect the military base. Responding to Republican Representative Mike Waltz, he said: “The Department of Defense shares your concerns about the interest of the People’s Republic of China in deepening its relations with Mauritius and the East African coastal states that make up the westernmost boundary of the Indian Ocean.” Published by The Daily Mail, Friday, March 24, 2023. “The United States recognizes the sovereignty of the United Kingdom over the British Indian Ocean Territory and regards the dispute over sovereignty as a bilateral matter between the United Kingdom and Mauritius,” Colin Kahl explained in his correspondence. He added that the United States supports engagement between the United Kingdom and Mauritius to solve this problem.

However, critics warned that there would be nothing stopping Mauritius from allowing China, which has invested billions of rupees in Mauritius in recent years in various projects, to build military facilities on one of the other neighboring islands. Mike Waltz a dit espérer « that the administration of Biden continue to exiger des garantees to protéger the presence militaire american à Diego Garcia et à coordonner avec alliés britanniques to garantir que Maurice ne soit pas influencé negativement par la presence of parti communiste chinois dans l ‘Indian Ocean “.

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This issue has also been raised recently by members of the British Parliament in London. As Colin Kahl noted in his correspondence, the specific arrangement regarding the facilities at Diego Garcia is based on the close and effective defense and security partnership between the United States and the United Kingdom. « We no longer travaillons en étroite collaboration avec le Royaume-Uni sur cette question et sommes convaincus que le Royaume-Uni est conscient des priorités des États-Unis et de l’importance d’un accès continu à Diego Garcia », at-il specific. Whatever the case, Morris had already given firm guarantees that the Diego García military base would be able to continue operating with the rent paid. Negotiations took place between the two parties on November 23 and 24, 2022, January 11 and 12, 2023, and February 23 and 24, “in the hope of reaching an agreement during the coming months,” as stated in the cabinet press release. Ministers on 17 March.

It also reported that “the discussions dealt with issues such as the continued operation of the joint US-British military base in Diego Garcia, the resettlement of former residents of the Chagos Archipelago, and cooperation on matters such as environmental protection, sea security, and combating illegal activities in the region.”

At the beginning of the negotiations, James Cleverly, the British Foreign Secretary, for his part, declared that the basis would be inviolable in any agreement. The UK and Mauritius have reiterated that any agreement between our two countries will ensure the continued effective functioning of the UK-US joint military base in Diego Garcia, which plays a vital role in regional and global security. »

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