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China Building a Spy Base in Cuba

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China is reportedly building a new spy base in Cuba, sparking significant concerns among U.S. officials and analysts. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington-based think tank, recently revealed satellite images indicating the construction of a signals intelligence facility near Santiago de Cuba, in a neighborhood called El Salao. This base, along with three other sites in Cuba, is believed to be part of China’s efforts to spy on the United States.

What the Spy Base Does

The new facility near Santiago de Cuba is designed to collect signals intelligence, which involves intercepting communications and other electronic signals. The main structure, a circularly disposed antenna array (CDAA), can determine the origin and direction of military communications signals, primarily a tactical advantage. Such technology, used extensively during the Cold War, will allow China to monitor U.S. air and maritime military activities in the Caribbean and parts of the east coast of the U.S. Given Cuba’s proximity to the U.S., this base offers China a strategic advantage in gathering intelligence that would be impossible from within its own borders.

Moreover, this gives China a foothold in Cuba that may eventually evolve into a staging area for operations into the U.S. (or perhaps an evacuation route for operatives). Further evolution could include military equipment, naval supplies and eventually missiles, offensive and defensive.

Militarily, the base enhances China’s ability to monitor U.S. military operations. The data collected from these sites can include information on military exercises, missile tests, and rocket launches, offering China valuable insights into U.S. military practices. The facilities in Cuba, particularly the new site near Guantanamo Bay, provide China with a significant intelligence window into U.S. military activities and potentially commercial shipping.

Political Reactions in the U.S.

The response from U.S. politicians has been strong and varied. Miami Republican Representative Carlos Gimenez, who serves on committees related to China, Armed Services, and Homeland Security, criticized President Joe Biden’s administration for what he perceives as a lack of leadership in the Western Hemisphere. Gimenez and others argue that the increasing Chinese and Russian presence in Cuba is a direct result of insufficient U.S. action.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the White House have declined to comment on the new site. However, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel acknowledged that the U.S. is closely monitoring China’s activities in Cuba and is committed to disrupting these efforts.

A Broader Strategic Move

China’s activities in Cuba are part of a broader strategy to expand its influence in the Western Hemisphere. In recent years, China has invested in infrastructure projects in the Caribbean, including ports and airports, which experts fear could be used for military and intelligence purposes. This growing presence challenges the traditional dominance of the U.S. in the region and raises questions about the future role of Cuba in global geopolitics.

The CSIS report highlights that China has been upgrading its intelligence collection facilities in Cuba since at least 2019. This includes significant developments at the Bejucal site near Havana, which has seen the installation of new radar and electronic listening equipment. These advancements suggest an evolving mission set focused on gathering a comprehensive picture of U.S. military and space activities.

This is not the first facility that China has built in Cuba, it is the evolution that is worrying. As China gets more and more cozy with Cuba, it becomes more and more dangerous for the U.S. and more and more likely that diplomatic efforts will escalate into a war.

https://features.csis.org/hiddenreach/china-cuba-spy-sigint

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