China Begins Expanding On Small Island Near America’s Doorstep

( – When most people think of the United States, the 50 states come to mind. But the country actually controls 16 other territories outside the US, all of which are islands. The five inhabited territories include American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Recent reports showed that China is taking up some space near one of the territories, raising some eyebrows.

On April 19, Newsweek reported it had obtained documents stating that Chinese President Xi Jinping is preparing to establish an economic zone on the island of Antigua — 219 miles southeast of the US Virgin Islands. The zone will reportedly have its own shipping port, customs, immigration practices, businesses, and airline.

The island nation will also be able to issue its own passports. But Antigua and Barbuda aren’t the only places China is expanding into in the Caribbean — a region referred to as “America’s third border.” According to documents and interviews with leaders in Antigua, the communist-led country is also growing a presence on other Caribbean islands.

Florida-based Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) spoke to Newsweek about the issue, stating it knew China could “use its commercial and diplomatic presence for military purposes.” The SOUTHCOM spokesperson said the country has already done the same in other areas around the world, so the command is aware of the possibility.

Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne supports Xi, making the move even more concerning for the United States. Apparently, Antigua has borrowed an undisclosed amount of money from the communist nation. Browne even opened an embassy in Beijing at the start of the year. He believes Xi has a “base, global view in terms of common humanity.” The PM dismissed any allegations that China is doing anything wrong on the island, calling the rumors “utter rubbish.”

Still, SOUTHCOM said it was worried that China would use its presence and influence in Antigua to “conduct intelligence or influence operations against the US” and others.

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