China and Cuba are in high-level talks to establish a joint military training facility on Cuba’s northern coast.
While the negotiations have not yet been finalized, they are at an advanced stage, according to unnamed U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
“The Biden administration has contacted Cuban officials to try to forestall the deal, seeking to tap in to what it thinks might be Cuban concerns about ceding sovereignty,” according to the report. “Beijing’s effort to establish a military training facility in Cuba hasn’t been previously reported.”
Less than two weeks ago, WSJ broke a story that China and Cuba were partnering to establish a military base that would be used as an electronic eavesdropping facility. Experts who spoke with Timcast said that a Chinese base on Cuba could spark a new Cold War and was also likely a signal to the Biden administration over the U.S. policy vis-à-vis Taiwan.
The latest WSJ report confirms what sources told Timcast, with intelligence officials saying that “Beijing sees its actions in Cuba as a geographical response to the U.S. relationship with Taiwan: The U.S. invests heavily in arming and training the self-governing island that sits off mainland China and that Beijing sees as its own.”
Officials say that most worrying for the U.S. is that the planned facility is part of China’s “Project 141,” an ambitious plan by China to expand its military footprint around the world, as documented in recently leaked documents from the Department of Defense.
Though some have dismissed the report because of longstanding plans by China to build a base on Cuba that have never materialized, “China and Cuba already run four eavesdropping stations on the island,” U.S. officials told WSJ.
Over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he raised the issue of China’s base in Cuba with Chinese officials, reiterating that it is a serious concern for U.S. officials.
The White House has declined to comment on the latest report.
An official with the Chinese Embassy in Washington said he was unaware of any deal between China and Cuba, adding that he believes the U.S. is an “expert in chasing shadows” and meddling in other countries’ affairs.