China Expands Presence on Small Island Near America

( – China is increasing its presence in the Caribbean, taking over the island of Antigua, located a few hundred miles from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A Chinese-run special economic zone with a shipping port, dedicated airline, and “customs and immigration formalities” is being constructed by China in Antigua. The special economic zone will also have the ability to issue passports. Antigua sold the five acres of land China is building its embassy on for the U.S. equivalent of 40 cents.

According to reports, Antigua has borrowed money from China, though it is unclear how much the country owes to China. Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne also supports Chinese dictator Xi Jinping, noting the idea China was doing anything nefarious is “utter rubbish.” Ministers from the two countries that, since 1983, have had diplomatic relations have signed more than nine memorandums of understanding.

Antigua’s United Progressive Party chairwoman, Gisele Isaac, said Browne sold Antigua out to the Chinese. Isaac said she believes China is attempting to establish “a foothold in more strategic places.”

According to a report, multiple regional officials think the “embassy” is actually “an intelligence base or a listening post.”

Critics say the construction in Antigua, which was once considered part of America’s “backyard,” turns the country into the front yard of China.

U.S. officials are sounding the alarm over China’s encroachment on what is referred to as “America’s third border” because China uses such upgrades to a country’s infrastructure to bring its military into a new region. China’s encroachment is “potentially the greatest external challenge” the U.S. has faced since the 1960s when the Soviet Union set up a base in Cuba.

A Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) spokesperson said that China has already taken advantage of “commercial agreements at host-country ports” in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia for military purposes. He said there are concerns China could “conduct intelligence or influence operations” against both the U.S. and its allies.

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