China and Cuba are in advanced negotiations for the construction of a joint military training facility, an infrastructure that would facilitate the presence of Chinese troops in Cuba on a permanent basis. A base for these purposes would be in addition to the spy bases that China allegedly has on the island, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“One of the advantages for China of having a military base in Cuba would be to have an area of operations close to the port of New Orleans, which is very strategic for the United States, being part of a key supply chain that goes down the Mississippi River,” Joseph Humire, executive director of the Center for a Secure Free Society, told Diálogo on July 25. “If China wanted to disrupt this north-south chain so it could strengthen its own supply chain that is south-south, Cuba would be a very strategic positioning for a base.”
The report of a new military base came immediately after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken completed a symbolic visit to Beijing on June 19. The purpose of the meeting was to iron out the differences between the two powers, following the incident of the Chinese spy balloon that flew over the United States in early 2023.
According to The Wall Street Journal, China and Cuba also reached an agreement to have a spy base on the island. Days later, Washington declassified intelligence to confirm that Chinese intelligence-gathering facilities have existed in Cuba since at least 2019, Infobae reported on June 20.
“There used to be rumors that since 1999 the regime in Cuba had granted China access to a base that had previously been operated by Russia,” Evan Ellis, a research fellow in Latin American Studies at the U.S. War College, told Voice of America (VOA).
“We have engaged at high levels with governments that are considering hosting PRC bases and exchanging information […] Our experts assess that our diplomatic efforts slowed this effort by Beijing,” Blinken said according to VOA. “It is something we are monitoring very carefully and taking steps to counter […]. We remain confident that we can meet all of our security commitments both at home and in the region.”
“This type of military initiative like the one China is trying with Cuba is aimed at positioning armed forces using its political and economic influence, in order to then install itself militarily on a permanent basis,” Humire said. “It is part of an initiative called Project 141, which began to be part of the Chinese doctrine with a concept of expansion of armed forces and of its political and economic power. That already happened with Ethiopia, Mauritania, and Djibouti.”
“Any kind of military operation needs logistics backing, which allows you to do maneuvers,” Humire concluded. “So the first thing China is going to do is to install military logistics conditions that can build the necessary capabilities for the future, installing first financiers, transporters, technical, telecommunications, and port operators, among others.”