The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Beijing and Havana are negotiating to establish a joint military training facility in Cuba, something the report acknowledged China would be exploring as a response to further US military entrenchment in Taiwan.
The report cited unnamed US officials and is not confirmed. The officials said the intelligence is based on a reference contained in a US intelligence assessment, which they described as “convincing but fragmentary.”
The officials said that US intelligence reports suggest the talks between the China and Cuba are at an advanced stage but not concluded. They said the Biden administration has contacted Cuba in an attempt to stop the potential deal.
The new claim comes after US accusations that China has had spying capabilities in Cuba since at least 2019, which China has denied. The spying allegations started with another Wall Street Journal report that was published on June 8 that claimed China and Cuba were discussing setting up a spy facility in the Caribbean country.
If the claims about the training facility are true, Beijing’s efforts would clearly be a response to the US building up militarily in areas near China. The Journal report said that some US intelligence officials say “that Beijing sees its actions in Cuba as a geographical response to the US relationship with Taiwan: The US invests heavily in arming and training the self-governing island that sits off mainland China and that Beijing sees as its own.”
Taiwan is roughly 100 miles from the coast of mainland China, about the same distance Cuba is from Florida. The major difference between the two islands is that China considers Taiwan its own territory, while the US does not claim Cuba.
The US withdrew all of its troops from Taiwan in 1979 as part of its normalization deal with China. But in recent years, the US has been boosting diplomatic and military ties with Taiwan. This year, the US deployed about 200 troops to Taiwan to help with training, the largest known US military presence on the island since 1979.
The Journal report also acknowledged that the US has dozens of military bases near China while Beijing does not have a comparable presence in the Western hemisphere. The report reads: “China has no combat forces in Latin America, according to US officials. Meanwhile, the US has dozens of military bases throughout the Pacific, where it stations more than 350,000 troops.”
This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com and is republished with permission.