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China planning secret spy base in Cuba targeting US; could intercept emails, phone calls of US military bases: WSJ

Chinese President Xi Jinping waves to deputies at the 13th National People's Congress in Beijing on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. (Lan Hongguang/Xinhua/Sipa USA/TNS)
June 08, 2023

China has a secret deal with Cuba to erect an electronic eavesdropping station on the island, which will allow the Chinese Communist Party to listen in on the communications of dozens of military bases located in the southeastern United States, people familiar with the classified intelligence told the Wall Street Journal.

China agreed to pay Cuba billions of dollars in exchange for permission to build the spy facility, officials said, adding that the two nations reached an agreement in principle.

“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,” said John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council. “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.”

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Officials familiar with the intelligence said China’s spy base would enable the communist nation to monitor a wide range of communications in the United States, including emails, phone calls and satellite transmissions.

The revelations comes as relations between the United States and China continue to deteriorate. During an appearance on ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner (R-Ohio) said China has shown “unbelievable aggression” toward the U.S. in recent months.

“Well, what we’re seeing is an unbelievable aggression by China,” Turner said. “If you look at the balloon that flew over the United States, the Chinese police stations, the aggressiveness against our both planes and ships in international water, it goes right to the heart of what President Xi said when he stood next to Putin in Russia, where he said, they’re trying to make change that had not happened in 100 years.”

Craig Singleton, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Wall Street Journal that China’s selection of Cuba is “intentionally provocative.”

“Establishing this facility signals a new, escalatory phase in China’s broader defense strategy. It’s a bit of a game changer,” Singleton said.