US ‘Working to Disrupt’ Chinese Expansion in Cuba: State Department

By Eva Fu
Eva Fu
Eva Fu
Reporter
Eva Fu is a New York-based writer for The Epoch Times focusing on U.S. politics, U.S.-China relations, religious freedom, and human rights. Contact Eva at eva.fu@epochtimes.com
June 21, 2023Updated: July 3, 2023

WASHINGTON—The United States is “working to disrupt” Beijing’s ongoing efforts to expand its presence in Cuba, the State Department has told The Epoch Times.

“Broadly, we are monitoring and responding to any PRC [People’s Republic of China] attempts to expand its military or security presence around the world, and we watch how potential PRC actions may impact the United States,” the department’s principal deputy spokesperson, Vedant Patel, told The Epoch Times in a press briefing.

The Chinese communist regime, he said, will “keep trying to enhance its presence in Cuba,” and the United States “will keep working to disrupt it.”

“Our experts assess that our diplomatic efforts have slowed the PRC down, and there, of course, continue to still be challenges, but we continue to be concerned about the PRC’s longstanding activities with Cuba,” he said.

Patel made the remarks as reports suggest that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is actively trying to bolster its surveillance capacity on the island, located just some 100 miles off the coast of Florida, which is home to a number of U.S. military installations.

U.S. intelligence from the Trump administration showed staffers from blacklisted Chinese telecom companies Huawei and ZTE going in and out of facilities suspected of hosting the CCP’s spying operations in Cuba, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing anonymous sources.

Socialist-led Beijing and Havana are reportedly negotiating a deal to establish a new joint military training station in Cuba, a revelation that comes on the heels of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s Beijing meeting with senior Chinese officials, including the regime’s leader Xi Jinping.

“This is not surprising,” Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) told The Epoch Times.

Congressional Hispanic Conference Holds News Conference To Discuss Group S Objectives
Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.), a member of the Congressional Hispanic Conference, speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 1, 2023. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“Cuba is an adversary, they will do anything they can to undermine U.S. interests, and so is China. So they’re going to be allies and they are allied in their quest to undermine the United States.”

In London, when asked about the military activities, Blinken said he made “very clear” Washington’s “deep concerns about PRC intelligence or military activities in Cuba” in his meetings with CCP leaders in Beijing.

He said that U.S. officials have “engaged a number of countries” where the CCP eyed expansion of its intelligence or military efforts, and have had “some success in slowing down these efforts.”

Epoch Times Photo
Chinese military ships moor at the port of Havana on Nov. 10, 2015. (Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images)

“This is something we’re going to be monitoring very, very closely, and we’ve been very clear about that. And we will protect our homeland; we will protect our interests,” Blinken said.

The White House initially dismissed a reported deal for a Chinese surveillance base in Cuba, characterizing it as “inaccurate” without elaborating. However, days later, the administration confirmed the existence of such a facility but said the development dates back to 2019.

Regarding those statements, retired U.S. Marine Col. Grant Newsham, who is an Epoch Times contributor, said he thinks the administration was “not being entirely forthcoming.”

From another perspective, he said, both the spy facility and the military training station speak plainly about how Beijing views the relationship with Washington.

“There are things a country doesn’t do if it’s interested in good relations,” he said in an interview with The Epoch Times’ sister outlet NTD.

They have “a plan of attack,” he said. “And they’re carrying it out.”

Jackson Richman contributed to this report.