Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Chinese and the Panama Canal

The Culebra Cut with the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Locks in the background

I often hear my military friends talk about how the Chinese own the Panama Canal. I have tried to tell them that this is not possible, but they always argue vehemently that they know it is so.

I have been through the Panama Canal 4 times and, for the last trip, I was the guy who coordinated with our Naval organizations (SUBPAC, SUBLANT, and others) for the arrangements with the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). I also developed the training materials used to train on navigation, ship handling, and line handling issues for the crew. Some of these materials are still being used in the Navy by other ships a year and a half later.

I know what I'm talkin' about. BTW: that picture of me in my profile was taken in the Culebra (Gaillard) Cut during that last transit.

The rumor of Chinese ownership has spread far and wide, and ended up in a story quoting HRH Hillary saying, "There are those who say we can't [prevent foreign governments from operating U.S. ports] because look what happened in the last 20 years ... You know, we have the Chinese running the Panama Canal. We have other government-controlled entities controlling our ports." The question of port operations at the two ports at either end of the Canal being run by Hutchison Whampoa has ballooned into ownership of the Canal by "the Chinese". This rumor then develops into the Canal being run by the Chinese government. Hutchison Whampoa is a company based in Hong Kong and is a private firm.

That story has angered the ACP, and they replied.

Panama Canal: Hillary Clinton Wrong on Chinese Control

I hope that clears it up.

I had some cool pictures and a map to post, but Blogger isn't letting me upload any images today. It has been funky for the last week or so.

Finally got Blogger to upload my images.

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