China and Russia used the COVID-19 pandemic to reinforce their dominance in the Western Hemisphere, according to Admiral Craig S. Faller, head of the Southern Command, in a testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Faller, who is soon leaving office, warned of major threats to U.S. security. He spoke about Beijing’s expansionist moves, with China using “mask-and-vaccine” diplomacy to exert its influence.
The admiral said that both the Asian regime and Russia used the pandemic “to move into our neighborhood.”
“This region is our neighborhood; it is directly tied to us in every way. A threat to our neighbors is a threat to the United States; and an opportunity for our neighbors is an opportunity for us to make our neighborhood stronger together,” Adm. Faller noted about his years of tenure heading the Southern Command.
The admiral admitted that the United States is losing positional advantage in the hemisphere and called for “immediate action to reverse the trend.”
China Seeks Regional and Global Economic Dominance: Southern Command
“The strategic prospect of the People’s Republic of China with more than 40 ports underway, significant lending as political leverage and predatory practices in illegal fishing are undermining democratic institutions in this hemisphere,” he said.
He also reported that Russia, China, and Iran are all actively seeking to take advantage of nations and fragile democracies in the region, thus seeking to exploit their proximity to the United States.
“To gain more access, presence and influence in the region, China and Russia deployed medical diplomacy and disinformation campaigns, often over-promising and under-delivering,” Faller noted.
He recalled that the Asian regime offered $1 billion in loans for its COVID-19 vaccine, improved medical infrastructure and signed agreements with Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and other countries.
“This will further indebt the region to China which already has $165 billion in loans,” he said. He added that the Asian regime intends to improve medical exchange programs by taking advantage of the pandemic to advance its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative in trade, technology and infrastructure.
Faller also added that “Russia is also using the pandemic as an opportunity to increase its influence in countries to which it previously had limited access. COVID-19 also provided Russia with an opportunity to expand its campaign to compete with the United States in the realm of disinformation by promoting the idea of U.S. mismanagement of COVID-19 and by claiming that sanctions are suffocating the Venezuelan people.”
The admiral’s statements coincide with the analysis of global security specialist Joseph Humire, who in an interview for El American stated that powers such as Russia or China are working together to control the West.
“Now that we are in the vaccine fight, we are seeing how countries like the United States are more focused on vaccinating their people; on the other hand China and Russia are more focused on selling their vaccines worldwide,” he recalled.
“In Latin America we have seen that the Russians and the Chinese are working together. Russia seems to be selling its vaccine to strategic allied countries such as Argentina; and China is looking to sell its vaccine to countries that have been more aligned to the United States, such as Peru and Chile,” he said.