According to a Biden administration official, China has been running a spy base in Cuba at least since 2019.
This is part of Beijing’s global initiative to improve its intelligence-gathering capacities.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, claimed that the U.S. intelligence community has known for some time about China’s eavesdropping from Cuba and a bigger plan to establish intelligence-gathering operations around the world.
The individual, familiar with U.S. intelligence, said that the Biden administration had increased attempts to impede the Chinese desire to extend its surveillance activities and believes it has made some gains through diplomacy and other unspecified action.
After The Wall Street Journal revealed on Thursday that China and Cuba had agreed in principle to deploy an electronic eavesdropping station on the island, the existence of the Chinese spy site was confirmed.
According to The Journal, China reportedly intended to give cash-strapped Cuba billions of dollars as part of the negotiations.
However, officials from the White House and Cuba criticized the allegation as being false.
White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby stated in an interview with MSNBC on Thursday, “I’ve seen that press report; it’s not accurate.” “I can tell you that we have been concerned about China’s influence actions around the world since day one of this administration; definitely in this hemisphere and this region, we’re watching this very, very closely.
Chinese espionage from Cuba has been assessed to be an “ongoing” issue by the American intelligence community and is “not a new development,” the senior official added.
Soon after assuming office in January 2021, President Joe Biden’s national security team received a briefing from the intelligence community about several sensitive Chinese initiatives around the world where Beijing was considering expanding logistics, basing, and collection infrastructure as part of the People’s Liberation Army’s attempt to increase its influence, the official said.
Chinese officials visited locations in the Indo-Pacific, the Middle East, the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
The official stated that as part of the endeavor, existing collecting sites in Cuba were examined, and China upgraded its espionage activity there in 2019.
China-US relations have been tense during the duration of Biden’s presidency.
The relationship may have reached its lowest point last year during Nancy Pelosi’s travel to Taiwan, a democracy.
That trip—the first by a sitting House speaker since Newt Gingrich in 1997—prompted China, which asserts sovereignty over the island, to begin military drills near Taiwan.
Early this year, tensions between the United States and China increased after the United States shot down a Chinese spy balloon.
Chinese President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the United States last month, which included a meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, also incensed Beijing.
The speaker hosted the Taiwanese leader in southern California’s Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
The White House has nevertheless been ready to restart these high-level discussions.
The trip to China that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had scheduled for next week was postponed due to the balloon’s flight over the United States.
According to U.S. officials who spoke Friday under anonymity because neither the State Department nor the Chinese foreign ministry has acknowledged the trip, Blinken anticipates traveling to Beijing on June 18 to meet with senior Chinese officials.
Last month, CIA Director William Burns met with his counterpart in Beijing. During a two-day meeting in Vienna in May, White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan said the administration wished to enhance high-level talks with the Chinese side.
At the opening supper of a security summit in Singapore, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently had a brief conversation with Li Shangfu, China’s minister of national defense.
China had turned down Austin’s prior request for a meeting outside the forum.