I had assumed that China was moving more aggressively on the diplomatic front into the Americas as it transitions from a regional to international power. Additionally, it would be in China's interest to be able to influence governments near the United States, much as the US has done with neighbors of China.
I had looked for information regarding this for a prior post but had not been able to find good proof. Thanks to RealClearPolitics carrying an article by Frederick Stakelbeck, I have found one entitled "China's Foray into Latin America".
"Recognizing an opportunity for a permanent base of influence and operations in the Western Hemisphere, China has stepped into the void caused by the Soviet collapse to embrace Castro...
The bilateral relationship has grown in both its diversity and intensity recently, heightened by Cuba and China’s mutual disdain for what they see as America’s global hegemony and intrusiveness. Their joint, anti-democracy stance was further solidified in March when Cuba’s Foreign Ministry Office issued a statement supporting the “one China” principle and the Chinese anti-secession law.
Recent diplomatic overtures and a renewed commitment to the Castro government make it clear that China views Cuba as a valuable ally moving forward. In November 2004, Chinese President Hu Jintao and 200 Chinese businesspersons took part in the China Investment and Trade Forum in Havana. As a result of this increased economic cooperation, China has become the island’s third largest trading partner behind only Venezuela and Spain. This, as Chinese President Hu Jintao reaffirmed his country’s commitment to Latin America by announcing an astounding $100 billion investment in the region in the next decade.
But China’s primary interest in Cuba is not related to commerce. Rather, the country is interested in fostering defense ties with the island and developing a state-of-the-art intelligence infrastructure to monitor US activities in the region. Intelligence and spying, not Cuban cigars and sugar cane, motivates Beijing."
Through its growing economic muscle, China looks to build an intelligence and defense network in Cuba and throughout Latin America as future leverage against the United States. I highly commend the whole article to you. We are seeing the opening chess moves on both sides of the Pacific for future rival superpower control and influence around the world between China and the United States.