Site Meter
Send Us An Email
Panama Guide

Welcome to Panama Guide
Friday, May 24 2019 @ 01:32 PM UTC

Chinese Ownership of Mexican Port Causing Worry

Foreign Direct Investment By Nancy Conroy - On - Chinese control of worldwide port facilities is an issue that should be reexamined in light of recent concerns about rising Chinese influence around the globe. The Chinese company Hutchison Whampoa, owned by Chinese billionaire Li Ka Shing, controls 35 major ports in the world, including the four most important ports in Mexico. Hutchison is about to build a brand new port at Punta Colonet, a Baja California cove located just two hours south of the US border. In the event of a conflict with China, a Chinese built and controlled port so close to the US could potentially function as a staging area for hostile activities. Also, the US should keep an eye on Huchison’s remarkably friendly relationship with the Mexican government. Hutchison Ports Holding, part of the Hutchison Whampoa group, runs 35 ports including the Bahamas, Buenos Aires, and two in the Panama Canal. And again, it is owned by Li Ka Shing, China’s most influential billionaire who is known as “The Superman of the Orient.” In 2003 Forbes magazine ranked him fifth among the world's ten “most powerful” billionaires, behind Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Silvio Berlusconi and Rupert Murdoch. (more...)

Editor's Comment: The Chinese conspiracy theory with regards to the Panama Canal and Hutchison Whampoa was overplayed in 1998 when the turnover of the canal was imminent and it remains overplayed today. The Chinese have proven to be excellent capitalists (go figure) and stripped of the whole Mao thing they are now making money with both big red fists, one over the other. In case you were wondering, Panama suckered the Chinese into investing millions and expanding their ports on both ends of the Panama Canal, and then promptly turned around to shaft them by opening up multinational bidding to build new ports on the landfill and rock that has to be excavated to expand the Panama Canal. These "mega-ports" are going to compete directly with the Hutchinson - Whampoa Panama Ports Company holdings.

The Chinese, of course, squealed really loudly and right on cue. And then Panama, of course, the Panamanians reminded China that they still recognize Taiwan politically. The message is clear - Keep *censored*ing about how we're making money and we'll give the contract to them. Talk about irony, eh? Since then both sides are making "donations" to Panama as hard as they can. And having a seat on the UN Security Council doesn't hurt when you're playing at this level.

Anyway, back to Mexico. According to this article Hutchinson Whampoa is willing to invest millions to develop a port in a desolate area of Mexico? And the reason it should not happen is because the big bad Chinese communists are going to build a nuclear base or something "200 miles" from the US border? Talk about wacky and a "deck chairs on the Titanic" argument. The US needs to worry about China because they are kicking our economic ass. The security angle is way off because now we are x-raying containers all over the place, and considering the terrorism threat there's no such thing as a "no go" area in an international port facility.

The Chinese are doing a repeat of Japan in the 1980's, when when they got rich and went on a spending spree to buy with Yen that which they could not take with steel and lead during WWII. Didn't they buy Rockefeller Plaza and a bunch of land in the Hawaiian islands or something like that? I wonder how that worked out for them on the grand scale of things. You know, economically speaking. Have they recovered yet? Anyway, the Panama angle on this article is way off. The Chinese have zero (as in none) control over the daily operational aspects of the Panama Canal, a cold fact that will never change. Someone should tell the author that the "cold war" ended in 1989 and the "green war" started practically on the same day. He who makes the most money wins.

(article continues)

A 1998 declassified Army intelligence report stated "Li Ka-shing, the owner of Hutchison Whampoa [Limited] … is directly connected to Beijing and is willing to use his business influence to further the aims of the Chinese government."

During the public debate over the Panama Canal turnover in 1999, several members of Congress expressed concern about Hutchison’s control of ports on both sides of the Canal. The critics argued that Hutchison’s involvement essentially meant that control of the strategic waterway was being handed over to the communist Chinese government.

Admiral Thomas Moorer told The New American magazine that "The Chinese penetration of Panama has been effected primarily through an entity known as the Panama Ports Company, a front corporation for Hutchison-Whampoa Limited, a Communist Chinese-controlled company owned by Hong Kong billionaire Dr. Li Ka-shing. Dr. Li’s business empire has long been intertwined with enterprises that front for the Communist military and intelligence arms of the People’s Republic of China. Ten percent of his Panama Ports Company is owned by China Resources, the commercial arm of China’s Ministry of Trade and Economic Cooperation.”

If Hutchison Whampoa is connected to the Chinese government, the US should take notice of this company’s plans to build a new port in Baja California. The new port would be located two hours south of the US border, at a remote location called Punta Colonet.

The area is desolate, totally empty, far from populated areas, and prying eyes could easily be kept out. All infrastructure, railways, roads and port facilities would need to be constructed from the ground up. During construction, it would be reasonable to cordon off the construction area and keep people out for security reasons.

The Chinese could quietly erect “special” installations disguised as something else, unnoticed amongst the massive construction project. Then Chinese ships could unload cargo items directly into the dual-purpose installations, or send presents to the US via the connected railway. Viola! A Chinese military base 200 miles from the United States.

The ability to pull off such a maneuver would require enormous political clout in Mexico, which Hutchison already has. Tijuana politician Jaime Martinez Veloz has alleged that Hutchison has a track record of power mongering and insider maneuvering in Mexico.

Martinez said that Hutchison obtained the concession to operate the Lazaro Cardenas port using a method that Martinez described as “a vile swamp of transnational, governmental and business corruption.” He added, “the favoritism and partiality of the Mexican port authorities towards the oriental consortium Hutchison has ‘inexplicable’ reasons, but one day they will be known.”

Martinez also mentioned that Hutchison’s owner, Li Ka Shing, might have a track record of making enormous donations to political parties in various countries.

Former Baja California governor Ernesto Ruffo is now functioning as Li Ka Shing’s Mexican front man, promoting the port in conjunction with rich local partners. The permits for the project are not in place, and there are pending lawsuits, but the Chinese victory already looks like a done deal.

Anyone concerned about a possible conflict with China should take a close look at the plans for the new Punta Colonet port, since the project could provide a bit more than what was bargained for.


Nancy Conroy, a guest columnist, is the Publisher of northern Baja California’s biweekly Gringo Gazette North. She can be reached via e-mail at

  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks

Story Options