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The Biden administration is voicing its concerns about proposed Chinese military facilities in Cuba after downplaying the existence of such facilities in recent weeks.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he raised the issue with China’s communist leadership during a trip to Beijing over the weekend.
“This is something we’re going to be monitoring very, very closely and we’ve been very clear about that,” Blinken said during a June 20 press conference in London.
“We will protect our homeland. We will protect our interests.”
Blinken’s comments referred to reports that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which rules China as a single-party state, is working to develop a spying facility and military training base in Cuba, 100 miles off the coast of Florida.
Blinken said that he expressed to CCP leadership that the United States “would have deep concerns about [Chinese] intelligence or military activities in Cuba.”
Chinese Troops on America’s Doorstep
Blinken’s comments follow several revelations as to the extent of the China’s presence in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Earlier in the month, a Wall Street Journal report said that the CCP was in negotiations to develop a massive spy base in Cuba, which would allow the regime to illicitly intercept American communications.
The White House initially pushed back on the report, claiming that it was inaccurate and denying any knowledge of such a deal. Just days later, however, the administration acknowledged that a CCP spy facility had been operating in Cuba since 2019.
New reports have now highlighted that the regime’s ambitions go beyond spying, and the White House has acknowledged reports that Beijing is in negotiations with Cuba to develop a military base to train Cuban soldiers.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby acknowledged the development, but shrugged off the possibility of Chinese troops in America’s backyard, saying that there was nothing surprising about a CCP training facility in Cuba.
“It’s no secret or surprise that [China] has been trying to improve their reach and their intelligence capabilities in the Western hemisphere,” Kirby said during a June 20 press call.
“That includes the relationship they have had for quite some time with Cuba.”
Kirby did not acknowledge the specifics of the CCP-Cuba deal. The Wall Street Journal, which originally broke the story, reported that the military training facility could lead to the stationing of Chinese troops in Cuba, and claimed that the Biden administration was taking steps to try to prevent its construction.
The lack of transparency about CCP military activities so close to the U.S. homeland has raised alarm bells in Congress, with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) blaming a lack of leadership at the executive level for allowing the current state of affairs to come to pass.
“We cannot allow China to build something like that this close to our land,” McCarthy told The Epoch Times.
“That shows a real lack of leadership from the aspect that they would even think about doing this. Especially when you have Secretary Blinken sitting in China right now and China have already sent a balloon across our country.”
Blinken Visit Stalls Freefall in Relations
Blinken is the highest-level U.S. official to set foot in China since President Joe Biden took office in 2021, is the first secretary of state to visit since 2018, when his predecessor, Mike Pompeo, visited China for one day.
Blinken had previously said that his China trip was aimed at building on the “productive discussion” that President Joe Biden and Xi had in November, when the two leaders met on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.
However, his originally scheduled trip to China in February was postponed in response to the discovery of a Chinese surveillance balloon flying over several states, which was shot down by the U.S. military.
At the time, Blinken said the incident “created the conditions that undermine the purpose of the trip.”
The Biden administration and CCP have tentatively agreed to stabilize relations following Blinken’s trip to Beijing.
No breakthroughs were reached during the secretary’s two days in communist China, but CCP leader Xi Jinping claimed the meeting was “progress,” and the two reportedly agreed that open conflict between the nations would be catastrophic.
Yang Tao, a senior official from China’s foreign ministry, said after the talks that China would continue its military communications blackout so long as U.S. sanctions on critical technologies and CCP personages continued.
When asked what progress the two sides had made, Yang said that China and the United States had agreed to prevent a further downward spiral in relations. China’s foreign minister, he added, would visit the United States in the future.
Biden said later on June 19 he thinks relations between the two countries are on the right path, and indicated that progress was made during Blinken’s trip.
Jackson Richman, Frank Fang, and Reuters contributed to this report.