WASHINGTON — China has been operating a spy base in Cuba since at least 2019, part of a global effort by Beijing to upgrade its intelligence-gathering capabilities, according to a Biden administration official.
The official, who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the US intelligence community has been aware of China’s spying from Cuba and a larger effort to set up intelligence-gathering operations around the globe for some time.
The Biden administration has stepped up efforts to thwart the Chinese push to expand its spying operations and believes it has made some progress through diplomacy and other unspecified action, according to the official, who was familiar with US intelligence on the matter.
The existence of the Chinese spy base was confirmed after The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, June 8, 2023, that China and Cuba had reached an agreement in principle to build an electronic eavesdropping station on the island. The Journal reported China planned to pay a cash-strapped Cuba billions of dollars as part of the negotiations.
The White House called the report inaccurate.
“I’ve seen that press report, it’s not accurate,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in an MSNBC interview Thursday. “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’re watching this very, very closely.”
The US intelligence community had determined Chinese spying from Cuba has been an “ongoing” matter and is “not a new development,” the administration official said.
Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossío also refuted the report in a Twitter post Saturday, June 10.
“The slanderous speculation continues, evidently promoted by certain media to cause harm and alarm without observing minimum patterns of communication and without providing data or evidence to support what they disseminate,” he wrote.
The US intelligence community had determined Chinese spying from Cuba has been an “ongoing” matter and is “not a new development,” the administration official said. / AP