Intelligence: China Is Listening

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May 21, 2011: Wikileaks documents revealed that China had approached the newly independent East Timor in 2007, and offered large amounts of foreign aid, and other considerations (bribes), for permission to build a radar and electronic eavesdropping base there. East Timor is on the eastern end of Indonesia (which it used to be part of). The Chinese pitched the surveillance radar as a way for East Timor to keep poachers out of its lucrative coastal fishing areas. The East Timor officials reported this offer to America and Australia, which came back with a better deal. While particularly grateful to Australia for help in gaining independence, East Timor was also wary of China which has always been more friendly with Indonesia, and opposes separatist movements like the one that created East Timor in 2002. So East Timor turned China down. China continued to provide aid to East Timor, just in case. China is patient, and flexible.

The U.S. was concerned about a Chinese base in East Timor, because American nuclear subs often use the adjacent Wetar Strait to travel between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The Chinese could also pick up a lot of useful information on American, Australian and Indonesian military activities in the area with their radar and electronic listening devices.

While China failed to establish a base in East Timor, it already has one Burma, and has open offers to other small states in the West Pacific and Indian Oceans for similar monitoring sites. China is listening, and wants to listen in more places.

 

 


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