Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
June 10, 2023
The recent back and forth in the US media about the hot potato issue of a China Secret Spy Base in Cuba is clearly a US domestic struggle on China policy.
First, Cuba is a sovereign state, so does China. The two sovereign states to build any “base” or “station” in either nation is their business. The US, as a third party, really does not have any official position about their project. Second, the US maintains a system of global surveillance stations around the world. The over the horizon long range radar station in Taiwan, which is about 180km away, overlooking mainland China has been in operation since 2020. Recently, it was reported that the US plans to spend US$27B to build an Over the Horizon Radar (OTHR) System in Palau monitoring the South China Sea. No one in the US made any fuss about it!
“International espionage,” a formal term for spying, has been a global norm since ancient times. There is no moral or legal issue here. Every nation does it, so no big deal.
The Biden administration has yet to formally announce Biden’s China policy. It is a US domestic debate and there is no need to drag China and Cuba in the US media with “quotes” from congressional aides and/or “anonymous” officials who are not authorized to speak but leaks to the media anyway. If someone in the US is against Secretary Blinken’s planned trip to Beijing, it is fine to speak out and justify it. Making a big fuss through leaks to US media does not help the global image of the US.
White House Says China Has Had Cuba Spy Base Since at Least 2019
By Gordon Lubold and Warren P. Strobel
June 10, 2023 3:09 pm ET
WASHINGTON—The White House on Saturday said that China has had a spy base in Cuba since at least 2019 and Beijing’s efforts to expand its intelligence gathering are ongoing.
It added that the Biden administration has taken steps to counter Chinese expansion of its security footprint globally.
The statement, which the White House said was based on newly declassified intelligence, follows a Wall Street Journal report Thursday that said China and Cuba had reached an agreement in principle to build an electronic eavesdropping station on the island.
After publication, the White House said Thursday that the Journal’s report was inaccurate, but declined to elaborate. On Saturday, it said: “This is an ongoing issue, and not a new development, and the arrangement as characterized in the reporting does not comport with our understanding.”
Saturday’s White House statement said that when the Biden administration came to office in January 2021, officials were briefed on China’s efforts to expand its global military and intelligence presence, including projects in the Atlantic Ocean, Latin America, the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and the Indo-Pacific.
That included “intelligence collection facilities” in Cuba, which the statement said were upgraded in 2019. “This is well-documented in the intelligence record,” the statement said.
The new White House statement said the U.S. has taken diplomatic and other steps to “slow down” the Chinese government in Cuba and around the world, having deemed that the Trump administration had made insufficient progress in stemming the initiative.
In a tweet, Rep. Michael Turner, Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, criticized what he said were the White House’s shifting descriptions of the situation in Cuba. “In less than 48 hours, officials from the Biden administration have contradicted themselves multiple times about whether or not the Chinese Communist Party is spying on the United States,” Turner said. “This is unacceptable.”
Is the Biden administration downplaying China’s plans for an eavesdropping post in Cuba?
Dan De Luce and Abigail Williams and Andrea Mitchell and Carol E. Lee
Sat, June 10, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT
The Biden administration is trying to ensure a high-stakes visit to China by top U.S. diplomat Antony Blinken goes ahead as planned, but critics contend that the White House has repeatedly downplayed increasingly provocative actions by China in the process.
The examples extend from revelations this week about a possible Chinese plan to build an electronic listening post in Cuba to a series of tense military encounters in the Pacific between the two nations.
Now, the White House doesn’t want another incident like the balloon episode to derail the planned talks, Western officials, congressional aides and experts told NBC News.
“They are working hard to make sure this visit happens,” said one Western diplomat, who was not authorized to speak on the record. “And they don’t want to be drawn into difficult subjects.”
This time it’s not a giant balloon traversing the continental U.S. that has presented the White House with a challenge but a possible project to build a Chinese eavesdropping site in Cuba about 100 miles off Florida’s coast.
China has held discussions with Havana about setting up an electronic surveillance facility in Cuba, a U.S. official and a congressional aide with knowledge of the matter told NBC News. It was unclear whether China and Cuba had a formal agreement in place for the base.
Congressional aides say the administration appears to be trying to avoid confirming the reports on the possible Cuba post, with Blinken’s trip in the balance and details of Beijing’s plans in Cuba still uncertain.
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers from both parties expressed alarm over China’s possible post in Cuba and called on the Biden administration to take action to prevent it.
“We are deeply disturbed by reports that Havana and Beijing are working together to target the United States and our people,” said the Democratic chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, and the Republican vice chair, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, in a joint statement.
“We must be clear that it would be unacceptable for China to establish an intelligence facility within 100 miles of Florida and the United States, in an area also populated with key military installations and extensive maritime traffic,” Warner and Rubio said.
The chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio, said in a tweet he was “deeply troubled” by the reports and added, “If true, this would be yet another act of Chinese aggression.”
U.S. allies in Asia and Europe, worried about growing distrust between the two superpowers, see Blinken’s planned visit as crucial to preventing a trade war and avoiding an unintended crisis.
But critics and some China hawks have questioned the administration’s approach, accusing the White House of pulling its punches and being too eager to maintain the prospect of possible high-level meetings with Chinese counterparts.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com