The Biden Administration Reveals China’s Spy Operations in Cuba
China Expands its Intelligence-Gathering Capabilities Worldwide
According to an official from the Biden Administration and two other sources, China has been expanding its military and intelligence facilities in Cuba since 2019. They claim that China carried out an “upgrade of its intelligence collection facilities in Cuba in 2019” and has been using them to spy on the United States. These recent revelations come in the wake of reports that China plans to build a new signals intelligence facility on the island.
Denial and Discrepancy
Although officials at the White House initially denied reports of China’s plans to build a new spy base in Cuba, one of the sources has confirmed that the agreement exists in principle but has not been built. Moreover, an official from the National Security Council has described the Wall Street Journal report as “inaccurate.” The discrepancies between these different statements have been described as “semantic trickery” by one of the sources.
US-China Relations Reach New Low
Relations between the United States and China have been at a low point following the spy balloon incident in February and recent aggressive moves by Chinese planes and ships against US assets in the South China Sea. US officials have sought to improve relations, with CIA Director Bill Burns traveling to Beijing for talks last month and Secretary of State Antony Blinken expected to visit China soon. However, the Chinese defense chief has already rejected a meeting request from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, warning the US to stop operating near Chinese waters and airspace.
China’s Long History of Cooperation with Cuba
China’s military and intelligence sites in Cuba are part of its strategy to align itself with other autocratic countries and advance its national security interests. These sites monitor shipping traffic, the US Guantanamo naval base, and communications. With communications moving increasingly towards wireless technology, China’s interest in monitoring them has increased.
The Biden Administration’s Approach to Addressing the Challenge
The Biden Administration believes that the US was not making enough progress in addressing China’s spy operations in Cuba and needed a more direct approach. The President has directed his team to come up with a strategy to address this challenge, and diplomatic efforts have slowed China’s activities, although challenges remain. The US remains concerned about China’s longstanding activities in Cuba, and it will continue to work to disrupt them.