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US confirms China has had spy base in Cuba since at least 2019

US confirms China has had spy base in Cuba since at least 2019


WASHINGTON (AP) — China has operated a spy base in Cuba since at least 2019, part of a global effort by Beijing to improve its intelligence-gathering capabilities, according to a Biden administration official.

The official, who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. intelligence community has known for some time about China’s spying in Cuba and a broader effort to establish intelligence-gathering operations around the world.

The Biden administration has stepped up efforts to thwart Chinese efforts to expand its spying operations and believes it has made progress through diplomacy and other unspecified actions, according to the official, who was familiar with U.S. intelligence On the question.

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

The White House called the report inaccurate.

“I have seen this press report, it is not accurate,” said John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council. said Thursday in an interview with MSNBC. “What I can tell you is that we have been concerned since day one of this administration about China’s influence activities around the world; certainly, in this hemisphere and in this region, we are watching this very, very closely.

The U.S. intelligence community determined that Chinese espionage in Cuba was an “ongoing” problem and was “not a new development,” the administration official said.

Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossío also refuted this information in a message posted on Twitter on Saturday.

“Defamatory speculation continues, obviously encouraged by some media to cause harm and alarm without observing a minimum of communication patterns and without providing data or evidence to support what they are broadcasting,” he said. writing.

President Joe Biden’s national security team was briefed by the intelligence community shortly after taking office in January 2021 about a number of sensitive Chinese efforts around the world where Beijing was considering expanding logistics, gathering bases and infrastructure as part of the People’s Liberation Army’s attempt to strengthen its influence, the official said.

Chinese officials examined sites spanning the Atlantic Ocean, Latin America, the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and the Indo-Pacific. That effort included examining existing collection facilities on Cuba, and China carried out an upgrade of its espionage operations on the island in 2019, the official said.

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

Relations may have reached their lowest point last year after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, a democratically governed country. The visit, the first by a Speaker of the House of Representatives since Newt Gingrich in 1997, led China, which claims the island as its territory, to launch military exercises around Taiwan.

Relations between the United States and China were further strained earlier this year after the United States shot down a Chinese spy balloon that had passed through the United States.

Beijing was also angered by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the United States last month, which included a meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The speaker received the Taiwanese leader at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in southern California.

The White House nevertheless rushed to resume high-level communications 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 the United States, Blinken expects to be in Beijing on June 18 for meetings with senior Chinese officials, according to U.S. officials, who spoke Friday on condition of anonymity because neither the Department of The state nor the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs have yet confirmed the information. journey.

William Burns, Director of the CIA met his counterpart in Beijing last month. White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan meets with his Chinese counterpart in Vienna for two days in May and made clear that the administration wanted to improve high-level communications with the Chinese side.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently I spoke briefly with Li Shangfu, The Chinese Minister of National Defense at the opening dinner of a security forum in Singapore. China had previously rejected Request from Austin for a meeting on the sidelines of the forum.


AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.

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