The US, China and El Salvador

Recently the US Ambassador to El Salvador, Jean Manes, created headlines when she asserted that China could be seeking to establish a military presence in El Salvador.   As reported in a Mint Press News story titled US Accuses China of Seeking to Build a “Military Base” in El Salvador Commercial Port:
Earlier this month, Manes alleged that China’s investments and business ties in the Caribbean and Central America, which remain modest, had become a concern for the U.S. Department of State owing to the potential that they could mask a creeping “militarization of the region.” 
Manes said: 
They [the Chinese] are trying to find weak spots in the region, where they can make these kinds of arrangements … we are concerned that it is not only investment in a port, but then they want to do something with their military and they want to expand Chinese influence in the region. It is a strategic matter and we all need to keep our eyes open to what is happening.”
Ambassador Manes seems to adhering to the anti-China rhetoric of the Trump administration which currently finds itself in a trade war with the Asian power.  But there are many reasons to look skeptically on the idea that there could end up being a Chinese military presence in El Salvador.

Elliott Gabriel points out in that article from Mint Press News:
Such claims of Chinese military activity in Central America should be taken with a grain of salt, at the very least, given the right-wing political forces and pro-U.S. business circles that are levying the accusations. 
The hard-right ARENA Party, or Nationalist Republican Alliance – which enjoyed major backing from President Ronald Reagan during the brutal civil war in the country of the 1980s through the training and arming of right-wing death squads – has accused China of ulterior motives underlying its interest in the Port of La Union. 
“What is there is a geopolitical interest, its medium- and long-term considerations: China’s objective is to interfere in the security zone of the United States,” ARENA Deputy Mauricio Vargas told Salvadoran newspaper ABC, echoing Pompeo’s talking points. 
The National Association of Private Enterprise has also criticized the SEZ and El Salvador’s relations with the Chinese government, warning that the lack of transparency could be a cover for unfavorable loans, corruption, and an influx of Chinese workers.
Others have warned, without citing any evidence, of the possibility that China will interfere in next year’s elections and fund the FMLN’s campaign efforts under the cover of large infrastructure projects in the country. 
The FMLN, for its part, has balanced its left-wing and anti-imperialist roots with a foreign policy that has preserved its collaboration with Washington on various security efforts aimed at drug interdiction or combating transnational organized crime. Unlike China, the U.S has significant military installations across the region, including an air base in Honduras and a radar station in El Salvador aimed at countering drug trafficking.
The other reason this concern of the US seems overblown is the existence of close economic ties between El Salvador and Taiwan.   These ties were again emphasized this month as Taiwan's foreign minister visited El Salvador to meet with President Salvador Sánchez Cerén.  According to the Focus Taiwan News Channel, during this visit Taiwan promised to further invest in El Salvador's agriculture, industry and infrastructure. and Minister Joseph Wu thanked El Salvador for its support of Taiwan in various international treaty organizations.

Taiwan and El Salvador signed four free trade resolutions in 2017 which went into effect earlier this year.  Several maquila factories in El Salvador have Taiwanese ownership.

Frankly, I am not sure what Ambassador Manes was trying to accomplish with her comments.