An eavesdropping facility on the island of Cuba, 100 miles from Florida, would allow China to gather electronic communications from the US.
China and Cuba Eavesdropping?
China has reached a secret deal with Cuba to establish an electronic eavesdropping facility on the island roughly 100 miles from Florida, the Wall Street Journal has reported, but the White House cast some doubt on the report.
The Wall Street Journal reported that China will establish an electronic eavesdropping facility in Cuba, allowing Chinese intelligence services to “scoop up electronic communications throughout the southeastern U.S., where many military bases are located, and monitor U.S. ship traffic.”
“U.S. officials described the intelligence on the planned Cuba site, apparently gathered in recent weeks, as convincing,” the WSJ said. “They said the base would enable China to conduct signals intelligence, known in the espionage world as sigint [signals intelligence], which could include the monitoring of a range of communications, including emails, phone calls, and satellite transmissions.”
The Biden administration considers China as its largest strategic rival.
Too Close to Home
The U.S. Central Command headquarters is based in Tampa. Fort Liberty, formerly Fort Bragg, the largest U.S. military base, is based in North Carolina.
The countries have reached an agreement in principle, the officials said, with China to pay Cuba “several billion dollars” to allow the eavesdropping station, according to the Journal.
The report, citing officials familiar with the matter, says, “China has agreed to pay cash-strapped Cuba several billion dollars to allow it to build the eavesdropping station, and that the two countries had reached an agreement in principle.” The report says U.S. officials described the intelligence on the plans as “convincing.”
If Chinese officials were to operate out of the base, they could pick up on signals communication, meaning China would be able to intercept emails, phone calls, and satellite transmissions.
National Security Council Remains “Confident” About US Security
“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. 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,” John Kirby, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council stated.
The CIA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment.
The news follows intense speculation that Russia, not China, was planning to reopen its Soviet-era espionage base in Lourdes, a town near Havana, which it shut down in 2002.
High-ranking Russian national security officials and diplomats have been traveling to the island recently and the two governments appear as close as ever, with Cuban leaders offering public support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Cuba, an old cold war foe of the United States, has long been a hotbed of espionage and spy games.
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