By Micaela Burrow, The Daily Caller | June 8, 2023
China has laid plans to open an eavesdropping outpost in Cuba, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing U.S. officials familiar with the highly classified intelligence.
The spy base will focus on intercepting electronic communications, or signals intelligence, from U.S. networks throughout the southeastern U.S. and reflects a brazen challenge to U.S. sovereignty, the WSJ reported, citing the officials. China offered Cuba several billion dollars to host the spy base and the two countries have agreed in principle, according to the outlet.
Officials said the Biden administration was alarmed when it discovered the informal deal, according to the WSJ. Establishing the signals intelligence operating base in Cuba would give the U.S.’ greatest military and political rival unprecedented access to sources of information about the U.S. Beijing could use to circumvent America’s interests.
“While I cannot speak to this specific report, we are well aware of — and have spoken many times to — the People’s Republic of China’s efforts to invest in infrastructure around the world that may have military purposes, including in this hemisphere,” John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, told the WSJ. “We monitor it closely, take steps to counter it, and remain confident that we are able to meet all our security commitments at home, in the region, and around the world.”
U.S. intelligence discovered the plans in recent weeks, and officials told the WSJ they considered it reliable. They did not say exactly where the base would be located or when construction is expected to begin.
Neither did they explain how the Biden administration could thwart the plans, according to the WSJ.
“Establishing this facility signals a new, escalatory phase in China’s broader defense strategy. It’s a bit of a game changer,” Craig Singleton, an analyst at the Foundation For Defense of Democracies, told the WSJ. “The selection of Cuba is also intentionally provocative.”
Signals intelligence includes email, phone calls and satellite transmissions, as well as other forms of electronic communication.
The base could also be used to monitor shipping traffic around the Caribbean, according to the WSJ.
The revelations come as the Biden administration is seeking to soothe an increasingly acrimonious relationship with Beijing and reestablish communication channels China cut off in the wake of the spy balloon shootdown, according to the WSJ.
China launched a surveillance balloon that transited across the continental U.S. and apparently hovered over several sensitive U.S. military sites, collecting information. The U.S. shot the balloon down off the coast of South Carolina.
President Joe Biden said in May he expected a thaw in U.S.-China realtions, according to the WSJ. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to meet officials — potentially including Chinese premier Xi Jinping — in China after postponing his trip in February due to the balloon incident.
The Chinese Embassy in the U.S. did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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