MR. KIRBY: Carla?
Q: Hi, thank you. Two different topics, if I may. First, as I'm sure you've seen the Wall Street Journal report about China's attempt to seek a military base in Equatorial Guinea. Can you confirm that -- that they -- that you've seen evidence that there are trying to establish a base there?
MR. KIRBY: What I would just tell you as -- as part of normal diplomacy to address maritime security issues there in that region, we have made clear, the administration has made clear, I don't know about the Department of Defense necessarily, to the leaders of the Equatorial Guinea that certain potential steps involving the PRC and the PRC's activity there would raise national security concerns for us.
And the administration has been clear about that.
Q: When you say national security concerns, can you help our audience understand what some of those may entail?
MR. KIRBY: Well look, again, just like we were talking about the Indo-Pacific, in Africa they continue to try to coerce behavior out of many African nations and try to intimidate, use economic leverage to seek their own national security goals there, which do not contribute in the end run, we don't believe, to the betterment of security stability there and for the interest of many of these African nations.
Now obviously look, these are sovereign nations and we respect that they will have bilateral relations of their own. That's the way the system works. But what we have seen China try to do there and elsewhere around the world is establish a foothold that they could use. That could advance their own military goals and I think that's the real crux of the issue. I really don't think I want to get any deeper than that.
Q: So just on Carla's question, you said that what we've seen China trying to do is establish a foothold there and elsewhere, so you're confirming then that China is trying to build a military installation?
MR. KIRBY: No. I'm not confirming that they're trying to build a military installation in Equatorial Guinea. I've said that we've expressed to leaders there our national security concerns. And we absolutely have seen China try to establish footholds. I'm not saying just military footholds. Just footholds in other places around the world, influence that they're trying to gain.
Q: And what -- I mean, what leverage does the U.S. have over Equatorial Guinea? You know, you can express that you have national security concerns about it, but I mean, what can the U.S. do really to convince them not to allow China to establish this foothold? Is there something that the U.S. is offering them or?
MR. KIRBY: It's probably a better question put to my State Department colleagues. Obviously that's a really diplomatic issues, but I would just offer that it's not so much about leverage. It's not so much about trying to get some sort of quid pro quo here. It's really about having an honest conversation with them about the concerns that we have, and we've done that.
Obviously like I said it's a sovereign nation, and we respect their right to have bilateral relations in manners that they see fit, but we wouldn't be doing right by our relationship, our bilateral relationship with them if we weren't honest about what our concerns were. But it's not about enforcing some sort of leverage on them.
Q: Just to be clear, what level were those conversations? About like a DOD to...
MR. KIRBY: It wasn't the Department of Defense. It was done through diplomatic channels. Yes. Yes, sir?