China Expanding New Outpost In Antigua & Barbuda, Alarming The Pentagon

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by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Apr 28, 2024 - 05:25 PM

US officials are deeply alarmed at new reports that China is greatly expanding its economic, diplomatic, and possibly even military presence in the island paradise region of the Caribbean, just off America's doorstep. 

Newsweek says it has in its possession leaked documents which show China has established a sprawling economic zone and outpost on Antigua and Barbuda, and has "secured privileges that resemble those of a small state."

This means that from this location lying just 220 miles from the US Virgin Islands, Beijing could expand its espionage capabilities, akin to what is already happening in nearby Cuba, where China is in negotiations with the Cuban government to establish a new joint military training facility on the island.

Image via US State Department

United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), which is based in Doral, Florida (near Miami) and oversees US operations and security in Central and South America and the Caribbean, says that China is likely using its state-owned enterprises to conduct intelligence-gathering, just as in other parts of the world.

"Given the breadth of investment into logistics infrastructure China has made in the Caribbean, we are concerned that China could task its state-owned enterprises and diaspora to conduct intelligence or influence operations against the U.S. and our partners in the region for military purposes," SOUTHCOM said in a statement.

"Those concerns are further heightened when you consider the Chinese Communist Party's practice of targeting, recruiting and bribing officials," it continued.

The leaked corporate documents reviewed by Newsweek indicate the following:

This natural paradise on the island of Antigua, where officials will study the thoughts of Xi Jinping, is about to be razed for a Chinese-run special economic zone. According to documents reviewed by Newsweek it will have its own customs and immigration formalities, a shipping port and a dedicated airline and will be able to issue passports. It will establish businesses offering everything from logistics to cryptocurrencies, facial surgery to "virology."

Already this has had a chilling effect in some places locally:

Increasingly, people were afraid to speak out about the flourishing relationship especially if they did business through the China-built shipping port in St. John's, she told Newsweek: "Everybody feels like their testicles are in a vise; that if you say the wrong thing, if you align yourself the wrong way, you're putting yourself in danger," Isaac said. "At night, I switch on my alarm and say my prayers."

"China, its state-owned companies and aligned private businesses are expanding rapidly in the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda and in other Caribbean countries in this strategic region long known as 'America’s third border,' according to a Newsweek investigation of government and corporate documents as well as interviews with Antiguan leaders," the publication continued.

PM Gaston Browne of Antigua meets with President Xi Jinping in Beijing, January 2024. handout

But Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne has rejected Newsweek's reporting as follows: "This cold war rhetoric going back to the relationship between the USSR and the USA, they are now trying to create and trying to use this sensational speculation that the PRC (People’s Republic of China) is now trying to use Antigua and Barbuda as a base.

"This is utter nonsense,” Browne continued while emphasizing "we will never ever enter into any arrangement with any country to hurt another. Much less to hurt a country like the United States in which we are so dependent on their tourism, we are dependent on their trade and investment." He added: "It will be like hurting ourselves. So protecting the US is protecting our own national interest."

Some analysts have speculated that China's interest in the Caribbean is related to the standoff over Taiwan and that Beijing wishes to counterbalance the global geopolitical chessboard. For example, the level of US military and intelligence infrastructure in place across the South China Sea and among Washington's regional allies not far off China's coast, even firmly entrenched on the island of Taiwan, are already immense and growing. For American national security officials, Monroe Doctrine assumptions are still alive and well, and deeply ingrained. It appears Beijing is significantly challenging that.