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China Constructing New Facility Close to U.S. Territory

'China may use its commercial and diplomatic presence for military purposes'

China Constructing New Facility Close to U.S. Territory

As it continues its global expansion, China is preparing to begin construction of a special economic zone on the island of Antigua, just 220 miles from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

State-owned companies and private businesses are expanding on Antigua, Barbuda, as well as other Caribbean nations, according to an investigation by Newsweek.

The effort is sparking renewed concern for U.S. Officials.

"We are aware that China may use its commercial and diplomatic presence for military purposes. In Asia, Africa and the Middle East, China has already abused commercial agreements at host-country ports for military aims; our concern is they may do the same in this region," a spokesperson for the Florida-based Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) told Newsweek.

Diplomats from around the globe believe that China’s foray into the Caribbean is about more than purely economics. It has a new embassy in St. John’s that could operate as a regional intelligence center, as well as Cuba-based facilities U.S. officials say are used for spying, the unnamed diplomats told Newsweek.

Last summer, it was reported that China had reached an agreement to establish a secret military base in Cuba, just 100 miles from the coast of Florida. China purportedly agreed to pay Cuba several billion dollars for the base, allowing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to monitor a range of communications, including emails, phone calls, and satellite transmissions.

Diplomats told Newsweek that because of the U.S. focus on the CCP’s efforts in Cuba, Antigua was not simply another expansion, but also a fallback position.

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

Some Antigua officials have expressed concern over China’s increasing influence in the region.

"Antigua has traded its sovereignty, I think most of us believe, to China," Gisele Isaac, chairwoman of the United Progressive Party, told Newsweek. "I think China wants a foothold in more strategic places, as a superpower."

She added, “I think that this administration has become, and that's our concern, overly reliant on one partner, that partner being China.”

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