Bringing Chinese Soldiers At America’s Doorsteps With New Cuba Military Facility:
June 20, 2023 3:02 AM | 2 min read
China and Cuba are in advanced negotiations to establish a joint military training facility on the island, raising concerns in Washington about the potential for Chinese troops and other security operations to be stationed just 100 miles off Florida’s coast, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
What Happened: The proposed facility on Cuba’s northern coast would be the result of a deal between China and Cuba, which is yet to be finalized.
The Biden administration has reportedly reached out to Cuban officials in an attempt to prevent the deal from going through, citing concerns about Cuban sovereignty. The plan for a military training facility in Cuba is part of China’s “Project 141,” an initiative by the People’s Liberation Army to expand its global military base and logistical support network.
China and Cuba already jointly operate four eavesdropping stations on the island, which underwent a significant upgrade around 2019. The new facility could provide China with a platform to potentially house troops permanently on the island and broaden its intelligence gathering, including electronic eavesdropping, against the U.S.
Why It Matters: The proposed facility has sparked concern within the U.S. due to its proximity to the mainland and the potential threat posed by a Chinese base with advanced military and intelligence capabilities in the U.S. backyard.
A Biden administration official disclosed that China has maintained a spy base in Cuba since at least 2019 as part of its worldwide initiative to safeguard her territory
The U.S. has been tracking a planned visit to Beijing by a senior Cuban defense official, which U.S. officials interpreted as representing the next step in the negotiations over the training facility. The Biden administration has expressed its concern about the planned facility to Cuban officials in Washington.
U.S.-China tensions have soared in recent months over issues including a Chinese spy balloon that flew over the U.S. before the U.S. military shot it down, and close encounters between the nations’ militaries in the skies and at sea. Some intelligence officials say that Beijing sees its actions in Cuba as a geographical response to the U.S. relationship with Taiwan, as highlighted in a previous report.
Despite the concerns, some U.S. officials cautioned that the parameters of China’s plans in Cuba aren’t fully known, and said the two countries would move cautiously to expand security ties. Cuba, several officials said, has reason to move cautiously, to avoid provoking the U.S. at a time when its economy is in disastrous shape and it is seeking the easing of economic sanctions and travel restrictions imposed by Washington, as noted in a recent article.