Skip to comments.China-Cuba/US-Taiwan tit-for-tat
Posted on 07/08/2003 1:28:48 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
July 7, 2003
Cuban President Fidel Castro (R) shakes hands with Li Changchun, member of the Chinese Politburo Standing Committee, prior to a meeting at the Cuban State Council in Havana, July 7, 2003. Cuba and China are holding meetings to strengthen political and commercial ties. REUTERS/Rafael Perez
June 22, 2001 HAVANA - Military relations between Cuba and China that allegedly extend to arms sales to this Caribbean island nation as well as joint intelligence activity has heightened tension between the two socialist nations and the United States.
Reports refuted by Beijing and Havana have appeared in the US media since Chinese President Jiang Zemin's visit to Cuba in April. "For over 30 years, Cuba has not imported any weapon from China," Cuban President Fidel Castro said on Tuesday night on a special program broadcast by Cuba's state-monopolized TV. Sun Yuxi, spokesman for China's ministry of Foreign Relations, had already stated that reports claiming his country was selling arms to Cuba were totally unfounded.
Citing a US intelligence report, the Washington Times reported on June 12 that at least three boats carrying explosives and other weapons had been traced from China to the Cuban port of Mariel in the past few months. According to the newspaper, China was taking advantage of Cuba's proximity to the United States to carry out electronic espionage to intercept US communications.
The government of President George W Bush is "very much concerned with this PLA [People's Liberation Army] cooperation [with Cuba] and movement of military equipment into Cuba", James Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said at a subcommittee hearing in the US House of Representatives.
However, US State Department spokesman Phil Reeker denied on June 12 that the government had reports confirming the allegations set forth by the Washington Times. Senate Republican leader Trent Lott said that if the allegations were confirmed, it would not be a good sign for China.
China, the United States' fourth biggest trading partner, with a bilateral trade flow that stands above US$110 billion, could be subjected to economic sanctions for selling weapons to Cuba, which Washington includes on its list of countries that engage in state-sponsored terrorism.
Chinese military assistance to Cuba is limited to logistical support like radars and anti-aircraft equipment, according to intelligence sources cited by the daily El Nuevo Herald, which is published in Spanish in Miami, a stronghold of the anti-Castro Cuban exile community.
Jason Feer, the publisher of CubaNews, a US-based on-line newsletter on Cuba, wrote in the June issue that it "seems unlikely that China would risk a major confrontation with the United States by supplying advanced weaponry that the United States would view as threatening". He added that China saw Cuba more as a "convenient bargaining chip in its ongoing rivalry with the United States". Furthermore, said Feer, China sees its relationship with Cuba as analogous to the United States' ties to Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.
In April, the Bush administration approved the sale to Taiwan of eight diesel submarines, 12 P-3C Orion anti-submarine aircraft, four Kidd destroyers and other weapons, along with the corresponding technical training. Meanwhile, three US missiles were tested Wednesday in Taiwan.
Beijing criticized Bush's decision to sell advanced weaponry to Taiwan as "meddling" in China's internal affairs, and said it reserved the right to take measures.
The row over US arms sales to Taiwan compounded the tension triggered by the April 1 emergency landing of a US spy plane in China, after it collided with a Chinese military plane.
The geopolitical differences between Beijing and Washington also arise from China's intention to counter, and if possible eliminate, the United States' predominant military presence in southeast Asia, especially in the South China Sea.
US analysts say military aid to Havana is a response to Washington by Beijing, which is also taking advantage of this island's geographic location for carrying out surveillance activities.
But Castro maintained on Tuesday that high-level officials from China and Cuba who met in December in Havana did not reach any agreement on weapons sales. The president also said a report was available which showed that the three Chinese ships that docked in Cuba were carrying food like rice and beans - "weapons to kill the appetite", he joked - building materials, and medical equipment.
He confirmed that the first shipment, which arrived May 10, 2000, was indeed destined for the armed forces, but consisted of donations of olive green drill, cotton and polyester cloth, white nylon material for mosquito screens, boots, buttons, thread and needles.
According to Castro, since the 1990 collapse of the east European socialist bloc which triggered Cuba's decade-long severe economic troubles, this country has not invested "a single cent" in weapons purchases. The years of military aid from the former Soviet Union had guaranteed an endless supply of firearms and "industrial-scale quantities of ammunition" to make sure any "invader" would have to pay "an unpayable price if they were unfortunately that stupid", said Castro.
Havana also maintains the capacity to set up a network of anti- tank and anti-personnel mines in case of a US military attack, the president added.
(Inter Press Service)
If China wants to throw money down that hole, I say go for it. The weapons then send will be second rate, even for China, and intel they gather will be unimpressive.
More likely, they are trying to work the psychological angle against us. I don't really think that will take. No one's taken Cuba seriously as a security threat for forty years. Most Americans think of Cuba as just another poor, backwards dictatorship. Barring any more nuclear weapons shipments, Cuba is a joke as a national security threat.
Taiwan, on the other hand...
As they extend their influence further into the Caribbean from the canal zone and central America, it's something we should all be concerned about IMHO.
Taiwan, on the other hand, is a mortal threat to China. As long as Taiwan exists, rich, free and happy, the PRC government looks like a bunch of screwups. It is no secret in China how the Taiwanese live, and the younger generation doesn't have any of the communist baggage of the older folk. They're far more inclinded to say 'hey, it works in Taiwan, lets do it here'. Once that day comes, and the older generation has lost its grip on power, the Communists are done for.