Report: China Plans to Build Spy Base 100 Miles From US

Sources say Beijing will pay Cuban government billions of dollars
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2023 10:15 AM CDT
Report: China Plans to Build Spy Base in Cuba
The El Morro Spanish fortress in Cuba.   (Getty Images/Vadim_Nefedov)

Talk of a cold war between the US and China will likely be heightened by reports that China is planning to build a spy base in Cuba. The Wall Street Journal, citing "US officials familiar with highly classified intelligence," reports that Beijing and Havana have struck a deal in which Cuba will allow the electronic eavesdropping station to be built in return for several billion dollars. According to the Journal, the signals intelligence base just 100 miles from Florida would allow China to monitor American ship traffic and communications throughout the southeastern US, which is home to numerous military bases, including Fort Liberty, formerly Fort Bragg, the country's biggest.

The Journal's sources described intelligence on the spy base as "convincing," though they declined to say whether construction had already begun. The only overseas Chinese military base that China has officially acknowledged is in Djibouti—and the only foreign base in Cuba is the American base at Guantanamo Bay, which Cuba has long considered an illegal occupation. The Soviet Union, and later Russia, operated its largest overseas signals intelligence station in Cuba from 1962 to 2002. Analysts say China is likely to argue that a Cuban base is justified because of American intelligence activities close to China.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that while he won't comment on specifics, the US is well aware of, and taking steps to counter, China's "efforts to invest in infrastructure around the world that may have military purposes, including in this hemisphere." Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, described by Reuters as a "vocal China and Cuba hawk," tweeted: "The threat to America from #Cuba isn't just real, it is far worse than this." He accused the Biden administration of not caring, adding that "they have people who actually want to appease the regime." (More Cuba stories.)

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