I was going to try to peg this week’s Vital Interests newsletter to the first presidential debate. But after rewatching parts of it, and reading through the transcript, I decided to move on with my life. Here are two China-related stories that caught my attention, with a little additional context for each.
Keep an eye on China’s relationship with Cuba.
On September 23, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the creation of the Cuba Prohibited Accommodations (CPA) List, which “includes 433 properties that are owned or controlled by the Cuban regime or certain well-connected insiders.” The list is intended to discourage Americans from staying at hotels owned by the Cuban government and from “attending or organizing certain professional meetings or conferences in Cuba.” Simultaneously, the U.S. Treasury Department took steps to restrict imports of “Cuba-origin alcohol and tobacco products.”
Both of the moves are intended to cut off profit streams that the Cuban government can use to bolster its own power, at the expense of the Cuban people, while also buttressing its ally in Venezuela. Since the days of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, the Cuban regime has helped the Venezuelan socialists quash internal dissent. That relationship has continued since their deaths, with Cuban military and intelligence officials assisting Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in his crackdown on the opposition. “We are grateful to Cuba’s revolutionary armed forces,” Maduro said in 2017, according to Reuters. “We salute them and will always welcome them.” The U.S. has backed Maduro’s rival, Juan Guaidó, but he has failed to unseat Maduro.