China operates spy unit in Cuba, updated in 2019: US official

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China operates spy unit in Cuba, upgrading its presence in the Caribbean island

A US official has confirmed that China has been operating a spy unit in Cuba for several years, with an upgrade in 2019 to boost its presence in the Caribbean island. The official commented that “this is well documented in the intelligence record”. The media in the US has recently reported that Beijing plans to establish a spy base off the coast of the US. When President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, the official stated that “we have been made aware of a number of sensible efforts by the PRC around the world to expand its logistics abroad, its base and its collection infrastructure globally”. The PRC intelligence collection facilities in Cuba were also mentioned, with an upgrade made in 2019.

Denial of Chinese Spy Base in Cuba

The Cuban government has denied any existence of a Chinese spy base on the island, with Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Fernández de Cossío saying “slanderous speculation continues”. He added that “certain media outlets promote information to cause harm and alarm without a basis in fact”. Cuba had previously dismissed the notion of a Chinese spy base as “mendacious and unfounded”, further straining relations between Cuba and China.

Chinese security presence expansion around the world

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has pushed for an expansion of the country’s security presence globally, and a base in Cuba, merely 150 km away from Florida’s southern tip, could pose the most direct challenge to the US yet. China warned the US not to “interfere in Cuba’s internal affairs” in response to media reports about the proposed spy base in Cuba.

Diplomatic slowdown of the PRC in Cuba

The Biden administration is of the belief that diplomatic efforts “have slowed down the PRC” from carrying out its activities in Cuba. However, the US official confirmed the PRC’s presence and upgrading efforts in Cuba as the administration continues to monitor Chinese activity in the area.

Blinken’s trip to Beijing rescheduled

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has rescheduled his visit to China after canceling in February. This comes after an alleged Chinese surveillance balloon was detected and later shot down by the US in its territory, causing tensions between the two countries. The announcement was made by US officials on condition of anonymity, with no official confirmation by the State Department. Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping had agreed to prevent heightened tensions and are seeking to keep relations amicable.

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