As a candidate for president, Donald Trump brought up China so many times it became a running meme … and now that he’s in the White House, his administration seems to be following through on his promises to apply pressure against the Asian superpower.
A lucrative arrangement for China which was inked during the Obama era has now been dismantled, after the Trump administration raised red flags over the prospect of the Chinese government controlling a U.S. port.
According to the South China Morning Post, the major issue is that Orient Overseas International — a company controlled by the Chinese government via a company called Cosco — owned the Long Beach Container Terminal in California.
The Cosco shipping company is based out of Shanghai and is not to be confused with the U.S. wholesaler Costco.
This means that a major U.S. port was potentially under Beijing’s thumb — a situation that caused alarm bells to go off in Washington.
The 2017 sale of Orient Overseas International to Cosco “raised a red flag with US security agencies, which were unhappy with the idea of a state-owned firm taking indirect ownership of a major port. Cosco now owns 75 percent of OOIL,” explained The Morning Post.
As a result, the Department of Homeland Security stepped in and pushed the Chinese conglomerate to sell the massive shipping terminal in California to “a suitable, unrelated third party” not controlled by China.
On Tuesday, that buyer was revealed as Macquarie Infrastructure Partners, which is based in Australia. That means that China-controlled Orient Overseas’ 40-year lease signed during the Obama administration has been effectively torn up.
“The Obama administration had no problems with OOCL signing a 40-year lease with the City of Long Beach in 2012 for control of America’s second largest and most automated container handling operation,” American Thinker pointed out on Tuesday.
“The sweetheart deal was part of the ‘Middle Harbor Redevelopment Program’ to fund a $1.5-billion expansion through 2020,” the conservative magazine continued.
In addition to the obvious national security problems with a Chinese government-controlled company literally operating a port on America’s west coast, there were also serious trade concerns about the Obama-era agreement.
“As part of its efforts to gain asset dominance, China has directed its state-owned companies to exclusively buy products and services from other Chinese state-owned enterprises,” American Thinker added.
That was exactly the kind of unfair, monopolistic practices that Trump pledged to squash when president.
Although Orient Overseas will be forced to give up their control of the port, the company still stands to make millions through the arrangement.
“Under the Macquarie acquisition terms, Orient Overseas International will pocket a $1.29 billion profit and still control vessel and rail traffic at the container facilities for the next twenty years,” said American Thinker.
But they will not have complete control of the port as they did before.
This decision to slap China on the wrist seems to confirm that the Trump administration is serious about holding the feet of America’s rival to the fire, and the president was not making empty promises on the campaign trail when he promised to put America first in international deals.