China is in talks to build a joint military training facility in Cuba, which has raised alarm in the Biden administration over the prospect of Chinese troops within 100 miles of the Florida coast, according to a new report.
Talks are at an advanced stage but not finalized, and the Biden administration has contacted Havana in an effort to finalize the deal, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing current and former US officials.
The officials said the plans were revealed in highly classified new US intelligence agencies, which they say are being interpreted with varying levels of alarm by analysts and policymakers.
As far as US officials are concerned, the proposed Cuban base is part of China’s “Project 141,” a plan to build a global network of military bases and logistics support, sources told the Journal.
It follows allegations from the US that China runs electronic spy bases in Cuba in an attempt to eavesdrop on sensitive military communications.
China is reportedly in talks to build a joint military training facility in Cuba, which has caused alarm in the Biden administration. Above is a view of Havana
An archive photo shows Chinese Air Force personnel marching. The US officials said plans for the training facility in Cuba were revealed in highly classified new US intelligence agencies
The White House and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to requests for comment from DailyMail.com Tuesday morning.
A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington DC referred questions from DailyMail.com to recent comments by Mao Ning, spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry.
“I am not aware of what you mentioned,” Mao said in response to a question about plans for a military base in Cuba during a regular briefing with reporters on Tuesday.
“We hope that relevant parties will focus their time and efforts on things conducive to mutual trust and regional peace, stability and development,” she added.
News of the proposed training facility comes after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken completed a two-day diplomatic visit to Beijing where he met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping but failed to establish military hotlines sought by the US .
Blinken said China is not ready to resume direct military-to-military contacts, something the US considers crucial to avoid miscalculation and conflict, particularly over Taiwan.
China has resisted the kind of direct hotlines that existed between the US and USSR during the Cold War, believing that they could encourage US troops to take provocative actions.
Meanwhile, issues related to Cuba are increasingly emerging in tensions between DC and Beijing.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (left) met with Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) in Beijing on Monday in an effort to improve bilateral relations
Last week, US officials accused Beijing of using Cuba as an electronic espionage station.
U.S. officials say China and Cuba jointly operate four electronic surveillance posts on the island and that China significantly upgraded its intelligence-gathering facilities there in 2019.
China, Washington’s biggest geopolitical rival, has previously denied using Cuba as an espionage base. The Chinese embassy in Washington DC did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday morning.
Earlier this month, a Chinese foreign ministry official rejected claims of military arrangements between China and Cuba, saying the US is an “expert in chasing shadows.”
Cuba says its only military incursion into its territory is the United States-owned Guantánamo Bay naval base, previously dismissing claims of a Chinese base as a US fabrication.
In recent months, US-China relations sank to their lowest point in recent history after the US shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon over its skies in February.
Beijing has also stepped up its military activities in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea, raising concerns in Washington.
In recent months, US-China relations sank to their lowest point in recent history, after the US shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon over its skies
Beijing has also stepped up its military activities in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea, raising concerns in Washington. Chinese leader Xi Jinping is seen above
Combined with other disputes over human rights, trade and opiate production, the list of problem areas is daunting.
Blinken met with Xi on Monday and said they agreed to “stabilize” badly deteriorated ties between the US and China.
However, the top US diplomat left Beijing with his request for better direct communication between the two countries’ armies rejected.
Still, China’s top diplomat to the Western Hemisphere, Yang Tao, said he thought Blinken’s visit to China “marks a new beginning”.
“The US is certainly aware of why there are difficulties in exchanging armies with military personnel,” he said.
China has blamed the standoff on US sanctions against top Chinese military officials, which Blinken said revolved entirely around threats to US security.