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Xi Jinping’s chilling ‘Project 141’ to station China’s military around the world

Blinken concerned over China’s ‘provocative actions’ in Taiwan Strait

China has been negotiating with Cuba the prospect of building a new joint training facility, that would see Beijing’s forces located just 100 miles away from mainland US.

Reports of the potential deal came just a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken travelled to China for a two-day diplomatic visit where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Despite a tense political backdrop, the meeting was described by both sides as fruitful and positive. Then came the Cuba news.

Blinken told reporters that during the visit he “made very clear we would have deep concerns about PRC [People’s Republic of China] intelligence or military activities in Cuba”.

He 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.”

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The military proposal is believed to be part of China’s so-called ‘Project 141’.

Sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the publication which broke the news of the Cuba military base, said the project was the “most worrying” aspect of China’s Cuba plans.

A long-term initiative, Project 141, became public knowledge in April 2023 after a series of secret Pentagon documents were leaked to Discord.

One of these documents claimed the project included proposals for at least five overseas bases and 10 logistics support sites by 2030.

Of the most controversial was a military installation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — a close ally and security partner of the US — which is said to already be under construction.

The UAE claims that the project had been suspended a year ago.

But China already has a number of overseas military bases, its first relatively close to the UAE, in Djibouti, East Africa.

Opened in 2017, it was a turn-up for the books: the US and several other Western countries already had bases in the country, paying the government tens of millions of dollars for the privilege.

The Djibouti post remains China’s only officially acknowledges overseas base. Yet, there are believed to be more.

In 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that China had signed a secret agreement with Cambodia to establish a similar naval base. Satellite imagery has shown construction works at the site.

Elsewhere, in Africa, Equatorial Guinea has been floated by Western intelligence as a potential site for China, another pawn in the Project 141 game.

The US Department of Defence, in a 2020 report, suggested that China has also “likely considered locations for [People’s Liberation Army] military logistics facilities in Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Seychelles, Tanzania, Angola, and Tajikistan.”

While China made no admission of guilt on these bases, it has snapped back at the US, referring to Washington’s hundreds of overseas military bases to say that it is in “no position to criticise others” for doing the same.

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The leaked document on Project 141 did not make any mention of China and Cuba agreeing to bases on the island.

However, Chinese bases in Cuba already exist. Earlier this year, reports emerged that Beijing has set up a secret spy base in Cuba, with the White House later admitting that it had knowledge of the base operating since 2019.

Some sources even suggest China and Cuba have been sharing signals intelligence since the Nineties.

China’s overseas interests go further than Project 141. People’s Liberation Army troops have travelled to Brazil and Colombia to engage in joint jungle warfare training.

There is also the extensive Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to pump less well-off and underdeveloped countries with cash and investment in return for access to vital ports and infrastructure.

Yet it seems even more developed countries have fallen prey to the initiative.

China already owns the Greek port of Piraeus, and has secured influence in Italy and its vital Trieste port after the country became the first G7 member to sign an investment agreement with it.

Other European nations like Serbia and Montenegro have also cosied up to China through the Belt and Road Initiative. Both have enjoyed injections of cash and infrastructure projects like bridges and railways.

Even what is considered to be the heart of Europe, Germany has been infiltrated by Chinese state-affiliated money.

In 2021, mapped every financial interest Beijing had in Germany, finding that high-risk security venues like airports, robot makers, and aerospace suppliers all had Chinese state-owned money flowing into them.

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