China has been operating an intelligence unit in Cuba for several years and upgraded its presence on the island in 2019, according to a White House official. The official confirmed China’s intelligence activities in Cuba and stated that this information is well-documented in intelligence records. Reports in US media had recently suggested that China was planning to establish a spy base in Cuba, which is located close to American shores.
The official further mentioned that upon President Joe Biden taking office, the administration was briefed on various efforts by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to expand its overseas logistics, basing, and collection infrastructure globally. This included the presence of Chinese intelligence collection facilities in Cuba, with an upgrade conducted in 2019.
The Cuban government has denied the presence of a Chinese spy base on its territory and criticized the recent allegations. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has been pushing for the rapid expansion of China’s security presence worldwide. The United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is scheduled to travel to China, with the rescheduled visit following a previously canceled trip in February due to a tense incident involving a suspected surveillance balloon.
The establishment of a Chinese base in Cuba, located just 90 miles off Florida’s coast, would be seen as a direct challenge to the United States. China has warned the US against interfering in Cuba’s internal affairs and accused the US of spreading rumors and slander.
The US official stated that diplomatic efforts have slowed down China’s activities in Cuba, suggesting that the Chinese presence in Cuba is not at the level they had aimed for. Earlier this year, China sent a high-altitude surveillance balloon across the United States, which was subsequently shot down by a US fighter jet after flying over sensitive military installations.