Biden admin's hype over 'Cuba spy base' could become another 'balloon incident' to trouble US plan to reengage with China
Published: Jun 11, 2023 10:15 PM
US double standards.Illustration:Liu Rui/GT

US double standards.Illustration:Liu Rui/GT

The US has once again showed its "split personality" on foreign affairs, said Chinese experts on Sunday, as the Biden administration on one hand desperately seeks to resume communication between US senior officials and their Chinese counterparts, but on the other hand keeps hyping up the groundless accusation of "China using secrete base in Cuba to spy on the US." 

Some experts warned that the new hypes could become another "spy balloon incident," and such hypes by US media and politicians may once again drag on Washington's plan to reengage with China.

Reuters cited an anonymous official as saying that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to visit China on June 18, for talks delayed since the "balloon incident." However, this plan is yet to be confirmed by China.

John Kirby, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, first said the Wall Street Journal's Thursday report on the so-called China's spy station is not "accurate." However, an official of the Biden administration who "spoke on condition of anonymity" told US media on Saturday that "the Chinese base in Cuba has already been established in 2019." 

Cuba on Sunday again refuted the US' claims. Cuban Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio posted a tweet on Sunday saying that "Slanderous speculation [by the US side] continues, evidently promoted by certain media outlets to cause harm and alarm without observing minimum standards of communication and without providing data or evidence to support what they disseminate."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, at a routine press conference on Friday, said, "It is well known that the US is an expert on chasing shadows and meddling in other countries' internal affairs. The US is the global champion of hacking and superpower of surveillance."   

US internal struggle

Experts said that due to the partisan struggle between Democrats and Republicans, the Biden administration decided to further hype the false media report rather than manage the report's negative impact to avoid further damage to its efforts to seek reengagement with China.

Similar to the "balloon incident," Republicans criticize the Biden administration for being weak when dealing with "China threat," as they want to force the White House to play tough, so that Democrats are destined to lose potential credits of fixing China ties and other related benefits.

Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Sunday that the US could have released information about Blinken's plan to visit China to the media, but "before Blinken set foot on the soil of China, anything is possible."

Lü Xiang, an expert on US studies and research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday that although China is open for talks and won't put barriers to communication, it's still possible that the Biden administration and other US politicians could mess up their own plans.

"It's a highly controversial topic in the US about how to deal with China, and obviously, the Biden administration's decision-making on the topic is under heavy impact of the US' internal politics," Li said. 

The latest voice from the US side proves that Biden administration still prioritizes its internal partisan struggle over handling the most consequential bilateral ties of the world, the expert said. 

The "balloon incident" in February is a typical case that shows unwiseness of the Biden administration, experts said. 

The Biden administration's unwiseness was seen in its (mis)handling of the "balloon incident" - if it had avoided overreaction and handled the incident properly, China-US communication on many fronts - diplomacy, economy and trade - might have already resumed, which can benefit the US economy as well as the global recovery, according to analysts. Unfortunately, the Biden administration messed it up, and it might mess it up again this time.  

To pressure China

Another reason why the US keeps hyping the matter is that Washington might want to put some pressure on China for the possible upcoming dialogue.

"By spreading groundless accusations, the Biden administration is actually trying to legitimize its close reconnaissance missions and spy activities around China's territorial waters and airspace," Lü said.

According to Li, the US attempts to dominate the agenda-setting for its potential talks with China, and gain one more bargaining chip for itself.

This trick proves that the US has failed to correct its mistake and to introspect amid problems of China-US relations; such arrogance, ignorance and selfishness at the strategic level will damage both sides and cause lose-lose tragedy, Li warned.

Lü said that if the US dares to openly mention the claim during talks with China, we can ask it to prove its claim and explain how it could affect US national security. We can also show the world who's the real provoker and aggressor by presenting US' close reconnaissance missions and spy activities around China's territorial waters and airspace. "The US will embarrass itself eventually."