US intelligence now claims that joint spy facilities on the island were just the beginning
Beijing and Havana are in negotiations to establish a military training facility in Cuba, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing current and former US officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Talks about the base on Cuba’s northern coast are “at an advanced stage but not concluded,” the WSJ claimed, based on what the officials described as “convincing but fragmentary” and highly classified US intelligence reports.
One current and one former official said the facility would be part of ‘Project 141’, a Chinese military initiative to set up bases and logistical support around the world. If true, this “could provide China with a platform to potentially house troops permanently on the island” and potentially expand intelligence-gathering against the US, they said.
The Journal’s report comes shortly after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited China in order to “halt a downward spiral in relations” between Washington and Beijing. He was even received by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The same outlet had alleged the existence of a “Chinese spy base” in Cuba earlier this month. After first denying the report as “inaccurate,” the White House revealed intelligence reports that claimed four Chinese intelligence-collection facilities have been in Cuba since at least 2019.
Cuba called the original WSJ report “totally mendacious and unfounded,” while the Foreign Chinese Ministry said on June 9 that the US was an “expert in chasing shadows” in other countries and meddling in their affairs. Beijing also noted that Washington had blockaded Havana for over 60 years and maintains its own military base in Guantanamo Bay.
The White House declined to comment on the new WSJ story. According to the unnamed officials, President Joe Biden’s administration has reached out to Cuba to block the deal, citing “what it thinks might be Cuban concerns about ceding sovereignty.”
Other officials speculated that China’s move might be a counter to the US sending over 100 troops to Taiwan, to train the local military, earlier this year. The Journal noted that Taiwan was roughly the same distance from the Chinese mainland as Cuba from the US. It neglected to note that the US recognizes the island as Chinese under the ‘One China’ policy, while Cuba has been an independent state since 1902.