- China is planning a new joint military training facility in Cuba, per The Wall Street Journal.
- At 100 miles off Florida’s coast, the facility would put China’s troops at Florida’s doorstep.
- Intelligence officials told the Journal China’s move is a likely response to US’s involvement in Taiwan.
WASHINGTON (Agencies): China is planning to set up a new joint military training facility in Cuba, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing information from current and former US officials.
The officials told the Journal that the facility could allow China to “house troops permanently on the island” and “broaden its intelligence gathering” against the US.
The new facility in Cuba would be just 100 miles off Florida’s coast, and effectively allow China to station troops right at the Sunshine State’s doorstep.
The Journal did not specify the number of officials it spoke to, or disclose their identities.
Negotiations between China and Cuba about the facility are still ongoing, though the White House has raised the issue with the Chinese and Cuban governments, per Politico.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a press conference on Tuesday that she was “not aware” of the negotiations with Cuba.
“We hope relevant parties will focus their time and efforts on doing things that are conducive to mutual trust and regional peace, stability and development,” Mao said.
Intelligence officials the Journal spoke to also believe that China’s moves are a response to the US military’s involvement in Taiwan. Taiwan is roughly 100 miles away from China, similar to the distance between Florida and Cuba.
The Journal’s scoop about the potential military facility comes two weeks after the outlet reported on June 8 that China reached an in-principle agreement with Havana to set up a spy base on Cuba. This base could be used to eavesdrop on signals from military installations in the southeastern US, the Journal reported.
A Biden administration official speaking anonymously to the Associated Press confirmed the Journal’s reporting days later, adding that China has been spying on the US from Cuba since 2019.
China has been working to cultivate its ties with Cuba. The country hosted Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez for a state visit in November 2022.
In a congratulatory message to Díaz-Canel on his reelection in April, China’s leader Xi Jinping said their bilateral relations are “operating to a high standard with steady new progress.”
The recent developments in Cuba are taking place against a backdrop of fraught relations between the US and China. Several tense military encounters have occurred between both countries, ranging from the shooting down of a Chinese surveillance balloon by the US in February to a near-miss confrontation between two military planes over the South China Sea in May.
Trump-era national security adviser H.R. McMaster told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that US-China relations now are arguably “worse” than the US’s relationship with Russia during the Cold War.
Representatives from the State Department, China’s national defense ministry, and Cuba’s foreign affairs ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider sent outside regular business hours.