WSJ “China agrees to build spy base in Cuba to gather US intelligence”

The Wall Street Journal reported on the 8th that China had secretly agreed to set up spy facilities in Cuba that could intercept electronic communications in the south and east of the United States, where many US military bases are located. To this end, the two countries agreed in principle to provide billions of dollars to Cuba, which is suffering from economic and financial difficulties.

Cuba is only 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the US state of southern Florida. Tampa, Florida, is home to US Central Command, an integrated combatant command that oversees the Army, Navy, Air Force, Space Forces and Marine Corps, and Fort Liberty (formerly Fort Bragg), the largest military base in the United States, also located in eastern North Carolina. Therefore, a base with China’s advanced military intelligence gathering capabilities to be placed in Cuba, which can be said to be the US mainland’s backyard, could pose a great threat to the US.

Graphics = Chosun Jung Daun Design Lab

After the report came out, John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, denied that the WSJ report was inaccurate, saying, “We are closely monitoring China-Cuba relations.” Meanwhile, the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized the article as “a completely false article, a fabrication intended to rationalize the decades-old US sanctions on the Cuban economy.” The Chinese embassy in the United States said, “We do not know the content related to the report, so we cannot comment.”

However, the WSJ reported that “US officials say that ‘China’s plan to build a spy base in Cuba is convincing, having been gathered in recent weeks.'” Once this base is established , it will be possible to collect a range of ‘signaling information’ including telephone calls, satellite communications and email. US officials did not disclose details to the WSJ such as the location of the center or whether construction has begun.

Meanwhile, analysts told the WSJ that Beijing is likely to claim that operating a spy base in Cuba is “justified” because the United States gathers extensive information about mainland China and Chinese military bases in the South China Sea and Taiwan. It has been reported that the US frequently flies military aircraft over the South China Sea for electronic surveillance, and also operates facilities in Taiwan that can tap into mainland China.

“The establishment of a Cuban spy base in China makes it clear that China is ready to do the same thing in the US’s backyard,” Craig Singleton, a senior fellow at the Institute for Defense of Democracies in Washington, DC, told the WSJ.

Meanwhile, the United States has a naval base at Guantanamo Bay, southeast of Cuba. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, it housed extremist Islamic terrorists arrested abroad, and before that, the center was used as a signal intelligence collection center.

Digital satellite/globe image of the Lourdes signal intelligence interception base on the northern outskirts of Havana, the Russian-controlled capital of Cuba between 1962 and 2002

During the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union operated a base in Lourdes, outside the capital, Havana, to intercept American signals. It was the Soviet Union’s largest foreign signal intelligence collection center, and approximately 1,500 Soviet, Eastern European and Cuban intelligence agents worked here. Until President Vladimir Putin shut it down in 2002, the Soviet Union and Russia paid about $200 million a year to Cuba from 1962 onward. Rumors circulated in 2014 that Russia was reopening the Lourdes spy base, but it has not yet been reported, the WSJ reported.


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