US intelligence confirms China spying from Cuba for years

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) and Chinas Foreign Minister Wang Yi attend a meeting in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on July 9, 2022. AFP/File
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi attend a meeting in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on July 9, 2022. AFP/File

China has been operating a spy base in Cuba since at least 2019 as part of its global efforts to improve intelligence gathering, according to a US official from the Biden administration.  

The US intelligence community has long been aware of China’s spying activities in Cuba and its broader ambitions to establish similar operations worldwide. The Biden administration has intensified its efforts to counter China’s expanding spying operations, making progress through diplomacy and other undisclosed actions.

Confirmation of the Chinese spy base came after The Wall Street Journal reported that China and Cuba had agreed to build an electronic eavesdropping station on the island. However, both the White House and Cuban officials dismissed the report as inaccurate.

US-China relations have been tense during Biden’s presidency, with conflicts arising from visits to Taiwan and the US shooting down a Chinese spy balloon that entered US airspace. Despite these tensions, the White House is eager to resume high-level communication with China.

A Biden administration official confirmed that Chinese spying from Cuba is an ongoing matter and not a recent development. China has been exploring various sites worldwide for intelligence gathering, including existing facilities in Cuba, and upgraded its spying operation on the island in 2019.

The US and China have made limited efforts to ease tensions, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken planning a trip to China and previous meetings between officials from both countries. However, China rejected a meeting request from US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

China’s presence in Cuba has been documented in the intelligence record, although the Cuban government denies the existence of a Chinese spy base. The reports of a planned base in Cuba coincide with China’s broader push to expand its security presence globally.

US officials believe that their diplomatic efforts have slowed down China’s activities in Cuba, but the situation remains a concern. The rescheduled visit of Secretary of State Blinken to China is seen as a significant step, but the US official acknowledged that China’s ambitions have not been fully curtailed.

The existence of the spy base has been confirmed, despite denials from China and Cuba. Tensions between the US and China persist, and efforts to resume high-level communication are underway. The US believes its diplomatic efforts have hindered China’s activities in Cuba, but concerns remain.



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