China Expanding Presence In Caribbean

China is furthering ties with the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda, which sits just about 200 miles from American territory. The move comes as China has taken a more aggressive foreign posture in recent years including flying spy balloons over the United States and Taiwan.

Recent reports indicate that China is investing millions of dollars in Antigua, which sits about 200 miles from the American Virgin Islands.

The island is allowing a “Special Economic Zone” for Beijing within its territory.

China and its companies have given hundreds of millions of dollars in grants and loans within the country, which includes rapid changes to its infrastructure.

The United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) said that the Pentagon is “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.”

China was praised by Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne. He said that China is “a country that stands on truth, and a country that, you know, at least has some level of empathy for small states, and generally for poor and dispossessed persons globally.”

China recently built a large embassy in Antigua, which many be used for spying.

The nation has just under 100,000 residents.

The efforts have received significant concerns from Congressional Republicans, including on the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party.

China’s growing efforts became more apparent last spring when a Chinese spy balloon transited the continental United States. The balloon was eventually shot down after crossing the main part of the country off the coast of South Carolina.

A number of Republicans criticized President Joe Biden for waiting so long to shoot down the craft.

Furthermore, China launched a series of balloons over Taiwan, including right before that country’s crucial presidential election. China has also been carrying out a number of military maneuvers near Taiwan and Beijing has spoken vaguely about a possible attempt to unify Taiwan with the mainland.