China and Cuba have reached an agreement allowing China to establish an electronic surveillance facility on the island, in a challenge by Beijing to the U.S.
A surveillance facility in Cuba, approximately 100 miles from Florida, would allow Chinese intelligence services to receive electronic communications throughout the southeastern U.S., where many military bases are.
Officials said that China has agreed to pay several billion dollars to Cuba to allow it to build the surveillance station.
The revelation of the planned station has sparked concern within the Biden administration because of Cuba’s close proximity to the U.S.
“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,” John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, said.
“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,” Kirby added.
U.S. officials described the planned site as convincing, saying the base would allow China to conduct signals intelligence, known as “SIGINT,” which includes monitoring communications, such as emails, phone calls, and satellite transmissions.
China’s embassy in Washington D.C. had no comment regarding the development. Cuba’s embassy did not offer any comment either.
Officials refused to provide more details concerning the proposed location of the eavesdropping station or whether construction had begun. It is unclear what actions the Biden administration can take to stop the facility’s completion.
The revelation about the agreement received criticism from Republicans about the Biden administration’s stance on China and Cuba.
“The threat to America from Cuba isn’t just real, it is far worse than this,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeted.
The threat to America from #Cuba isn’t just real,it is far worse than this
But to date not only does the Biden WH not care, they have people who actually want to appease the regime
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 8, 2023
The U.S. has intervened in the past to prevent foreign countries from extending their influence in the Western Hemisphere, most notably during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, where the U.S. and the Soviet Union came head-to-head after the Soviets deployed nuclear missiles on Cuba, leading to a U.S. Navy quarantine of the island.
The Soviets eventually backed down and removed the missiles. Months later, the U.S. secretly pulled back intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Turkey that the Soviets had complained about.
The revelation about the new base comes while the Biden administration tries to improve U.S.-China relations after months of anger that followed a Chinese spy balloon’s flight over the U.S. in 2023.