China has teamed up with a communist ally to spy on the US just 90 miles south of Florida, White House officials confirmed.
The country has been operating a spy base in Cuba since at least 2019 as part of an effort to ramp up its spying efforts, a Biden administration official said, noting that the issue has been “ongoing” and predates Biden’s presidency.
The anonymous White House official said that the US intelligence community has known of China’s spying from Cuba for some time, deeming it an “ongoing” matter” that is “not a new development.”
The Biden admin has worked to stop China’s efforts to expand its spy operations and believes some progress has been made through diplomacy and other specified action, the official said.
The existence of the Chinese spy base was confirmed
It was reported that China planned to pay the down-and-out island country billions of dollars as part of the negotiations.
Following the news Thursday, 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.”
Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossío also denied the report in a Twitter post on Saturday.
“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.
According to the anonymous official, Biden’s national security team was briefed about the spy base and China’s efforts to further its influence and spying capabilities soon after he took office in January 2021.
Chinese officials looked at sites spanning the Atlantic Ocean, Latin America, the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and the Indo-Pacific before picking Cuba. An already existing facility on the island was upgraded for the spying operation in 2019, the official said.
Tensions between the US and China have been fraught throughout Biden’s term.
US-China relations have been unsteady throughout Biden’s term. Things took a turn for the worse after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the democratically governed Taiwan. The visit, the first by a sitting House Speaker since 1997, prompted China, which claims the island as its territory, to start conducting military exercises around Taiwan.
The relationship became even further strained after the US shot down a Chinese spy balloon that had crossed into the US earlier this year.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is planning to travel to China next week, after a previous trip was canceled as the balloon flew over the US.
Blinken expects to be in Beijing on June 18 for meetings with senior Chinese officials, according to US officials, who spoke Friday on condition of anonymity.
CIA Director William Burns met in Beijing with his counterpart last month.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with his Chinese counterpart in Vienna last month and made clear that the administration wanted to improve high-level communications with Chinese officials.
With AP wires