China and Cuba are in active conversations about creating a new joint military training facility on the island nation 100 miles from the American homeland.
According to a senior U.S. official, Beijing and Havana are discussing what kind of training would take place at the facility and what the leadership structure would look like. Biden administration officials have brought up these talks with their counterparts in Beijing and Havana. It’s unclear, however, how far along China and Cuba are in their chats about the prospects for a deal, the official said.
Asked for comment, an administration official said the U.S. “can’t confirm on that reporting or comment on that specifically. We continue to be concerned about [China’s] longstanding activities with Cuba,” adding that Beijing “will keep trying to enhance its presence in Cuba, and we will keep working to disrupt it.”
The officials were granted anonymity to discuss a highly classified intelligence issue. The Wall Street Journal was first to report on the negotiations.
The revelation comes on the heels of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to China where on Monday he met with paramount leader Xi Jinping. While both men said the talks were fruitful, though devoid of clear deliverables, China refused to reestablish military-to-military communications like Washington wanted.
Asked about the report of the Cuba training base talks on Tuesday, Blinken told reporters he had made it “very clear” during his meetings in China this week that Washington has “deep concerns about PRC intelligence or military activities in Cuba.”
“This is something we’re going to be monitoring very very closely,” Blinken added. He spoke in London at a joint press conference with Britain’s foreign secretary James Cleverly.
“I think it’s absolutely vital that we have these kinds of communications, military to military,” Blinken told reporters Monday. “That imperative, I think, was only underscored by recent incidents that we saw in the air and on the seas.”
Ten days ago, the Biden administration admitted China had a spy base in Cuba since at least 2019, after initially saying — without elaboration — that the reporting on negotiations over such a base by the Wall Street Journal, POLITICO and other outlets was “inaccurate.”
Trump administration officials insist they were not aware of intelligence on the spy base while they were in office. But during a Sunday appearance on CNN, former Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he “would not be surprised” by China’s actions.
Source : POLITICO