US would have ‘deep concerns’ about China military activities in Cuba, Blinken says

LONDON (Reuters) – Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that the United States would have deep concerns about Chinese military activities in Cuba, after the Wall Street Journal reported that Beijing was planning a new training facility there.

Speaking at a press conference in London after wrapping up a trip this week to Beijing, Blinken said he made clear to his Chinese counterparts “that we would have deep concerns about PRC intelligence or military activities in Cuba”.

Blinken added: “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.”

The Wall Street Journal, citing current and former U.S. officials, reported on Tuesday that China and Cuba are negotiating to establish a joint military training facility on the island that could lead to the stationing of Chinese troops just 100 miles off Florida’s coast.

Discussions for the facility are at an advanced stage but have not concluded, and President Joe Biden’s administration has contacted Cuban officials to try to stop the deal, the newspaper reported.

The White House National Security Council and the Cuban government did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report.

Washington said last week it has made its concerns known to Cuba about hosting Chinese spy operations. The U.S. government has long suspected that China runs an intelligence gathering operation in a village near Havana, on Cuba’s northern coast.

China denies it uses Cuba as a spy base. Cuba says the only military incursion in its territory is the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which belongs to the United States.

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar with additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Dave Sherwood; writing by Muvija M; Editing by Sarah Young and Alistair Bell)