Home News China has had a spy base in Cuba since at least 2019: US official

China has had a spy base in Cuba since at least 2019: US official

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A Biden administration official said China has operated a spy base in Cuba since at least 2019, as part of a global effort by Beijing to modernize its intelligence-gathering capabilities.

The official, who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the US intelligence community has been aware of Chinese espionage from Cuba and has been working harder to conduct intelligence-gathering operations around the world for some time.

The Biden administration has stepped up efforts to thwart Chinese efforts to expand espionage operations and believes it has made progress through diplomacy and other unspecified measures, according to the official close to US intelligence on the matter.

The existence of a Chinese spy base was confirmed after The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that China and Cuba had reached an agreement in principle to build a listening station on the island. The newspaper reported that China plans to pour billions of dollars into cash-strapped Cuba as part of the negotiations.

But the White House and Cuban officials called the report inaccurate.

“I saw that news article, it’s inaccurate,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in an interview with MSNBC on Thursday. What I can say is that we have been concerned since day one of this administration about the activities of Chinese influence around the world; Certainly in this hemisphere and in this region, we’re watching that very closely. ยป

The administration official said that US intelligence agencies have determined that Chinese spying from Cuba is an “ongoing” problem rather than a “new development.”

President Joe Biden’s national security team was briefed by the intelligence community shortly after he took office in January 2021 on a number of sensitive Chinese efforts around the world as Beijing mulls expanding infrastructure logistics, bases and assembly as part of the People’s Liberation Army effort. The official said no more leverage.

Chinese officials examined sites spanning the Atlantic Ocean, Latin America, the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and the Indian and Pacific oceans. The official said the effort included a review of existing assembly facilities in Cuba and that China improved its spying on the island in 2019.

Tensions between the United States and China have been high throughout the Biden term.

The relationship may have hit rock bottom last year after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited democratically-ruled Taiwan. The visit, the first by a House speaker since Newt Gingrich in 1997, led China, which claims the island as its own, to conduct military exercises around Taiwan.

Relations between the US and China soured further earlier this year after the US shot down a Chinese spy balloon that had flown over the US.

Beijing was also angered by a stop by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in the US last month, which included a meeting with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy. The Taiwanese leader hosted the speaker at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Southern California.

However, the White House was eager to resume high-level contacts between the two parties.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to visit China next week, a trip that was canceled as the balloon flew over Blinken from America and is expected to be in Beijing on June 18 for meetings with senior Chinese officials, according to two US officials who spoke. Friday, on condition of anonymity because neither the State Department nor China’s Foreign Ministry has yet confirmed the visit.

CIA Director William Burns met with his counterpart in Beijing last month. White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with his Chinese counterpart in Vienna for two days in May and made it clear that the administration wants to improve high-level communication with the Chinese side.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently spoke briefly with China’s Minister of National Defense Li Changfu at the opening dinner of a security forum in Singapore. China has previously refused Austin’s request to hold a meeting on the sidelines of the forum.


Associated Press diplomatic writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.

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