China has become one of the world’s most aggressive and dangerous powers. Its leaders clearly have the ambition to rule the world! And China’s danger and ambition is multiplied by its remarkably close partnership with Russia.
But the biggest problem China poses is not generally mentioned. This is something that American politicians, especially, want to forget. Perhaps even the American people want to forget it because they share in the blame for letting this maneuver happen. This problem may prove to be the most insidious move by China against America in history. And it will plague the United States in the near future!
I’m talking about China’s takeover of the Panama Canal.
Carving a channel through Central America was a goal for centuries. But it wasn’t until 1880 that France made the first concerted attempt under Ferdinand de Lesseps, the French entrepreneur who had completed the Suez Canal. The French spent the modern equivalent of $6 billion, only to abandon it after disease and accidents killed more than 22,000 laborers. Building an interoceanic canal appeared impossible.
But in 1903, United States President Theodore Roosevelt convinced the Panamanians to declare independence from Colombia and signed a landmark treaty with them. America paid France $40 million for its equipment and excavations and paid the Panamanians an initial payment of $10 million. Then the Americans went down and started digging!
Roosevelt was the first president to really see that America should be a world power. And he governed as if America was a world power, not just a colony of Europe.
After 10 years of innovation and backbreaking toil, hundreds of millions of American taxpayer dollars, and losing over 5,600 lives themselves, the Americans succeeded where so many others had failed. They turned the 400-year-old dream of slicing apart North America and South America and mingling the waters from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans into reality.
Rather than sailing 8,000 miles around the dangerous cape at the end of South America, sailors could now transit the 51-mile canal in less than half the time.
One of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World,” the Panama Canal served not just Americans but opened up free trade and all kinds of service and blessings to the whole world!
Today, 340 million tons of cargo, including many materials and products we all use on a daily basis, transit the Panama Canal. More than a million ships have passed through it. Some supply chains that serve millions of people would not even be possible without it.
One of the greatest foreign-policy experts, the late Charles Krauthammer, said building this “strategic jewel” raised America “to the rank of great power” (Time, Dec. 27, 1999).
The canal was a major part of making America great! It was an unparalleled spectacle—a wonderful creation and a great victory in American history. It was a grand blessing to the U.S. and to other nations and peoples. I believe building the Panama Canal may have been America’s greatest-ever foreign-policy success.
The Panama Canal was also of immense military value for the United States.
To understand, consider this history: In 1898—years before the canal was built—the United States Battleship Maine exploded off the coast of Cuba, killing 260 American officers and other men and igniting the Spanish-American War. The Navy dispatched its most advanced warship, the uss Oregon, to the scene. But the Oregon was anchored in San Francisco Bay. It had to sail 12,000 miles, burn 4,100 tons of coal, and spend 68 days to reach Cuba. Had the Panama Canal existed, the voyage would have been only 4,000 miles and taken as little as three weeks.
This event showed the U.S. how militarily important it was to dig a canal through Central America. It’s no wonder then that once Roosevelt green-lighted the canal project, the U.S. military supplied much of the labor, engineers and security during construction. And as they dug the canal, they were simultaneously constructing military bases alongside it.
By the time America entered World War ii, it had nine operational military forts at each end of the canal—and several inland installations along its path. These included bases for the Army, Air Force and Navy. The American military presence covered almost 90,000 acres and included more than 5,420 buildings worth an estimated $4 billion. At the height of World War ii, the United States stationed 65,000 troops throughout Panama to protect its invaluable strategic ability to quickly move warships, materiel and troops from one ocean to another and project its power around the globe. GlobalSecurity.org wrote that during World War ii, “When the United States found itself enmeshed in a two-ocean war, the Panama Canal suddenly became the most strategic point on the globe.”
During the Cold War, the Panama Canal was again a crucial strategic gateway and was the headquarters of the U.S. Southern Command. American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines under this command promoted freedom and democracy in the Western Hemisphere and countered the spread of communism.
No maritime gate on Earth was as important to the U.S. as the Panama Canal. Not even close!
But, tragically, America’s control over this “strategic jewel” was not to last.
Going, Going, Gone
Though the people of Panama benefited immensely from the canal and the surrounding U.S.-controlled Canal Zone, some became resentful about America’s presence in their nation. The Globalist wrote in 2014: “[R]ich Panamanians complained of not being able to sell enough to the Zone, while poor Panamanians complained of everything else. Demands intensified after the Cuban Revolution of 1959 ….”
In that bloody revolution, Communists led by Fidel Castro seized control of Cuba. By 1964, some Marxist-Leninist influence had spilled over from Castro’s Cuba into Panama. The Communists inflamed the resentment that some Panamanians felt toward America. Soon Panamanian students and what were almost certainly Communist instigators started rioting in the Canal Zone, and more than 20 people were killed.
Panama’s government temporarily broke off ties with the U.S., and the administration of American President Lyndon B. Johnson felt pressure to hand the canal over. During a 1964 speech, he promised that America would draw up a “long-range plan” of “major changes” for the canal.
Those plans culminated in a terrible deal signed in 1977. That is when Panama’s dictator, Omar Torrijos, signed new treaties with U.S. President Jimmy Carter that replaced the 1903 Roosevelt treaty. Under the new terms, Carter agreed for the canal to be transferred to a small group of political thugs in Panama. In other words, Carter just gave away this “strategic jewel”! The thugs running that little country threatened to keep rioting and causing problems that would disrupt trade through the canal, so Carter surrendered it altogether!
The final phase of the Torrijos-Carter treaty took effect on Dec. 31, 1999, when the U.S. relinquished its last control. But there is a lot more to this story than the world—and especially America—understand.
America wasn’t relinquishing control just to Panama.
Even before the final phase of the handover, an event happened that should have shaken America—but it was barely noticed! On March 1, 1997, a giant Chinese corporation took control of the American-constructed ports at each end of the Panama Canal.
Like most large Chinese companies, Hutchison Whampoa (now CK Hutchison Holdings) is controlled by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (ccp). This means the ccp ultimately could take control of who can enter and exit the Panama Canal.
Any student of military strategy should see the startling possibilities that this terrible Chinese deal opened up. An enterprise of China—the nation possessing the world’s largest army, and aggressively expanding its navy and air force—took control of the major sea-transit gateway between East and West. If China were to suddenly sink a large ship in the canal or otherwise sabotage it, the nation could deny the U.S. Navy access through this strategic choke point. The wartime implications of that are alarming!
And now that China has a solid commercial foothold at the canal, what would stop it from opening military bases there and moving its troops, submarines, warships and fighter jets in? It is true that the Torrijos-Carter treaty includes a clause demanding “permanent neutrality and operation” of the canal, and makes clear that anyone trying to attack the seaway or build a military presence there would face an immediate military response from America.
But if the ccp timed such a move prudently—waiting until the U.S. is suffering serious internal disorder or until China’s partners are antagonizing America elsewhere—then how strongly would the U.S. military be able to respond?
Christopher R. O’Dea, an adjunct fellow at Hudson Institute, wrote in 2018 that we should expect China to militarize its commercial ports! “Chinese state-owned shipping and construction companies have assembled a global network of commercial ports that can be readily converted to military bases. … China clearly intends to militarize commercial facilities,” he wrote, saying that this could quickly happen in Panama.
Around Panama, the Chinese Navy is making port visits. In recent years, warships sailing under the red, five-star Chinese flag have anchored off of Cuba and Venezuela. The U.S. Naval Institute wrote about these kinds of port calls in June 2019, and said the Chinese “will leverage their Latin American presence when they feel it necessary.”
The trail is already blazed! When the circumstances are right, China can move its military into Panama. Then it not only will be able to deny America transit through the canal, but also can use its presence there as a staging ground to attack the U.S. underbelly!
With warships, submarines and bombers only 900 miles from Miami, China would be well positioned for such attacks. If China moved warplanes or missiles to “protect” its interests in Panama, much of the U.S. mainland would be within striking distance. The potential threat to U.S. and world security posed by Panama’s decision to let China run the canal is difficult to fathom!
Do you think this won’t plague America in the future? Where is our vision? America is so wrapped up in itself that it doesn’t even see what is happening.
Not to Be Trusted
If you think China won’t behave that way, look at what the ccp has already done in recent years. Look at their illegal trade practices, including systematic theft of intellectual property and government-subsidized distortion of competition. Look at their illegal takeover of the South China Sea and Hong Kong. Look at the way they are pushing at the Indians and trying to take more land along their border. Look at their aggression against Taiwan. Look at the predatory lending to small countries using debt as a weapon to make them pawns in the grand Chinese game.
The Communist Party that runs China is not to be trusted. You can see that by their fruits. This Communist atheist regime is ambitious in a very evil way.
This is the power that can control the gateway between the world’s two greatest oceans! It can control shipping between America’s own east and west coasts. This all happened through a deal struck by a money-grasping Panamanian government.
And America stood by and let it happen.
Theodore Roosevelt once famously said: “If we stand idly by … if we shrink from the hard contests where men must win at hazard of their lives, and at the risk of all they hold dear, then the bolder and stronger peoples will pass us by, and will win for themselves the domination of the world.”
Roosevelt had boldness and strength to act! He took risks! He did not fear those who wanted to destroy America. But he did fear God! He wrote a famous book titled Fear God and Take Your Own Part. Even the title says so much: Fear God and trust God, and do your own part with courage! Good advice!
What would Roosevelt have thought of his successors in the presidency who outright surrendered the strategic jewel that he and so many others hazarded so much to build? What would he think of them surrendering it to “bolder and stronger peoples” in China interested in “domination of the world”?
The truth is we surrendered the canal because of fear! We wanted to withdraw forces from Panama rather than hazard a clash that our leaders felt would inevitably come. Then we acted like the canal was unimportant. Yet we still fantasize like children that we are a superpower. No real superpower acts that way!
Few Americans are concerned about the canal today. This is another sign that we have lost our world vision and are bogged down in the present. What happened with Panama is very dangerous. And in the next few years, the world will see just how dangerous it was.
Panama is already a massive victory for the Chinese Communist Party and a great loss for the security of America and the world. It was also proof of the true prophecies of your Bible!
Possessing the ‘Gates’
Genesis 35:11 records a promise God made to Abraham’s grandson Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel: “And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation, and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins.” Notice: God Himself is saying this!
The “great nation” mentioned here is the United States. The “company of nations” is the British Empire. The fact that God fulfilled this promise to Jacob by blessing the U.S. and Great Britain can be proved in several ways. You can read about it and prove it to yourself by ordering a free copy of The United States and Britain in Prophecy, by Herbert W. Armstrong. It shows how God fulfilled this prophecy mightily through Jacob’s son Joseph and his descendants, who ultimately became the Americans and the British.
Deuteronomy 28:52 shows that one specific way God would bless these two powers was by giving them control over “gates.” These “gates” are the maritime ports and passages that world trade flows through, and even land gates in a few cases.
At the height of British and American power in the 19th and 20th centuries, Britain possessed or controlled the Suez Canal, Gibraltar, Malta, the Dardanelles, the English Channel, the Gulf of Aden, the Andarman and Nicobar Islands, Zanzibar, Cape Town, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), the Straits of Malacca, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Falkland Islands. America possessed or controlled the Aleutians, the Hawaiian Isles, Midway, Guam, Wake Island, the Philippines—and the Panama Canal. And the British and American navies kept sea lanes open through many other choke points around the globe.
Britain and the U.S. didn’t gain all these strategic gates because we are somehow better than other nations. God gave these awesome gifts to us! He gave them so we could virtually rule the world, but in a far more benevolent way than powers like China ever would.
The fact that Britain and America acquired all these strategic oceanic locations itself proves that these nations are modern Israel.
One of these gates was far more strategically important to America than all others. It is discussed specifically in your Bible in an astounding way.
In Genesis 22:17 God says to Abraham, “That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore ….” This shows how immense the family of Abraham would become, largely through his grandson Israel.
God continues: “[A]nd thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.”
Deuteronomy 28 specifies “gates,” plural, an accurate translation of the Hebrew word seareka. But here in Genesis 22, it is from the singular construct of the word: “the gate.” It’s just one. Which gate could this be? Which one is God singling out as the main fulfillment of this blessing from God?
I don’t believe any sea gate could be called “the gate” except the Panama Canal.
Estimates published in 1934 calculated that the maximum traffic the Panama Canal could handle would be around 80 million tons of shipping per year. But by 2015, traffic was more than 340 million tons of shipping each year—quadruple the original maximum estimate.
In 2010, the one millionth ship crossed the Panama Canal. One million ships in less than 100 years! That adds up to billions of dollars saved by ships that didn’t have to circumnavigate South America. All that savings is passed on to anyone who buys products shipped through the Panama Canal, which is almost all of us.
And it goes beyond economics. As covered above, the Panama Canal helped guarantee the security of the world, especially the Western world. It positioned the U.S. to better police the globe and to keep powerful aggressor nations from running roughshod over weak countries.
This canal has served the world for decades. It was a great gift given by God through America and through His outstanding leader, Theodore Roosevelt, because he feared God! Clearly, the Panama Canal is “the gate” God speaks of in Genesis 22:17.
Losing the ‘Gates’
In Deuteronomy 28:52, God says that if the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob refused to turn to Him, He would cause their enemies to take control of all the very same gates He had previously blessed them with.
Notice that this is about the end time—the time we now live in. Genesis 49:1 talks about what would happen to the sons of Jacob (or Israel) in the “last days,” and this passage in Deuteronomy, about the nations of Israel losing the gates, is largely about that same time frame.
God tells those same descendants of Israel in Leviticus 26:19: “And I will break the pride of your power.” That is a prophecy, too. If we don’t look to the God who made great powers of Britain and America, then He will reverse those blessings. They have already been fading away, especially for Britain. Does anybody ever ask why? God doesn’t give blessings like this and just take them away unless there’s a great reason. Do you know what it is?
A big part of the answer is ingratitude toward God, and turning away from Him. Our sins have made us a weak spectacle before the world. The Bible makes clear that God will continue to break the pride of our power if we don’t heed Him and aren’t thankful for all His blessings.
Throughout his many years of writing and teaching, Mr. Armstrong witnessed Britain lose control over the Suez Canal, Singapore, Cyprus, the Cape of Good Hope and many other gates. Based on these scriptures, he prophesied that the trend would accelerate. In 1980, he wrote, “As the ‘pride of our power’ continues to be broken, as the British continue to lose their foreign sea gates and possessions around the Earth, as America signs away ownership of the Panama Canal … this focal prophecy alone represents giant proof as to where the modern ‘remnant’ of the peoples of Israel resides today!”
When Mr. Armstrong died in 1986, the U.S. still controlled “the gate,” the Panama Canal. But some 14 years after his death, America surrendered it, proving Mr. Armstrong right.
Our broken pride in our power is why our people are not stirred by what happened with the Panama surrender. How long must God curse us before we awaken? That is the big question each of us must answer. The decision is in our hands—nationally and individually.
The whole world is watching. Unless we repent before God, they will see our tragic collapse. And the Bible’s prophecies show that China’s grip on the Panama Canal could play a major role in that tragic collapse.
‘Mart of Nations’
The Bible also prophesies the rise of a massive trade bloc in the end time. Isaiah 23:3 describes it as a “mart of nations.”
Verse 1 shows that a lead nation in this trade bloc would be “Chittim,” an ancient name for China. Another leading power in the trade bloc is “Tyre,” a name representing the commercial center of modern Europe. A related passage in Ezekiel 27 mentions ancient names for modern Russia and Japan showing that they too will join this “mart.”
This astounding prophecy connects closely to the warning in Deuteronomy 28:52 about America and Britain being besieged by their enemies. The “mart of nations” prophecy makes clear who exactly those enemies besieging the U.S. and UK will be!
The Bible contains many prophecies of an end-time European power attacking America and Britain (request our free book The Holy Roman Empire in Prophecy). When those prophecies are placed alongside the “mart of nations” prophecies and other Bible passages, it is clear that the early phases of that attack will consist of an economic siege! Europe, China, Russia, Japan and other nations will lock America out of world trade!
The “mart of nations” prophecy also indicates that the partnerships between Europe and Latin America, and between China and Latin America, strengthen dramatically. With common religion, culture and languages, Europe already wields considerable influence in Latin America. And China and Russia are amassing great influence in Panama, Venezuela, Cuba and elsewhere. This makes the prophecies about America and Britain falling under the siege come alive in the pages of your Bible!
These chilling prophecies point to bleak days ahead for America and some of its allies. But Bible prophecy shows that the mart of nations and the terrible conflict it will unleash will actually be used by God as loving correction.
Two great trading blocs are positioning themselves to control the world. But that trading partnership won’t last long. Soon they will clash, just before Jesus Christ returns and destroys both of them.
Christ will bring a swift end to all of mankind’s self-destruction. He will usher in an era of peace and prosperity for the peoples of Panama, China, the U.S. and all of the world. We should thank God daily that beyond that bad news is the best news we could possibly hear!
God will allow America and other nations descended from Israel to suffer at the hands of bold and brutal peoples. He will then punish those sinning peoples as well with further warfare and finally put an end to treacherous, bloody, corrupt human governments worldwide with the return of His Son, Jesus Christ, to govern all nations! Finally, man will learn a lesson far more valuable than all the sea gates in the world: what it truly means to fear God and take your own part.