WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — Shortly after Biden administration officials said The Wall Street Journal’s Thursday report that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had reached an agreement to establish a spy base in Cuba was “not accurate,” another Biden official reportedly “clarified” that Chinese spy facilities in Cuba are real and have been a concern for years.
On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that China had agreed to a multibillion dollar deal to set up an “eavesdropping facility” in Cuba to spy on the U.S. military.
Cuba is located less than 100 miles from Florida’s southernmost point, Key West.
Citing intelligence officials who professed to have knowledge of the matter, the report suggested the CCP spy base would enable China to gather intelligence on southeastern U.S. military bases (like the U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida, and North Carolina’s Fort Liberty), as well as track the movement of ships.
Biden administration officials as well as members of the Cuban government originally refuted the report, arguing it was inaccurate and even, according to Cuban Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, “mendacious.”
In comments to Reuters, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said his team had “seen the report” and that it was “not accurate,” though he noted that “real concerns” exist in the U.S. regarding the relationship between Beijing and Havana. The outlet noted that Kirby “did not specify” what aspect of The Wall Street Journal’s report “he thought was incorrect.”
U.S. Defense Department spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder also threw cold water on the report, telling Reuters, “We are not aware of China and Cuba developing a new type of spy station.”
Reporting on Saturday, however, suggests that “new” may be the operative word in Ryder’s statement.
According to Politico, an official within the Biden administration “who was granted anonymity to discuss a sensitive subject” told the outlet that the Chinese government has had “intelligence collection facilities in Cuba” for years, and had even “conducted an upgrade” of those facilities “in 2019.”
“This is well-documented in the intelligence record,” the official told Politico.
According to the report, the official suggested the Biden administration engaged in “diplomatic efforts” to curb the Chinese spying efforts shortly after taking office in January 2021.
“When this administration took office in January 2021, we were briefed on a number of sensitive PRC [People’s Republic of China] efforts around the world to expand its overseas logistics, basing, and collection infrastructure globally to allow the [military] to project and sustain military power at greater distance,” the Biden official said.
“We think the PRC isn’t quite where they had hoped to be,” the official added. “The PRC will keep trying to enhance its presence in Cuba, and we will keep working to disrupt it.”
On Thursday, members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee released a joint statement calling on the federal government to send a “clear” message to China in response to its “ongoing and brazen attacks on our nation’s security.”
“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,” Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida wrote, according to Politico.
Reports concerning the Chinese presence in Cuba come after a Chinese spy balloon was spotted floating over the U.S. earlier this year. The incident sparked controversy after the Biden administration initially said it wouldn’t shoot the aircraft down and claimed the balloon likely wasn’t actually spying on the U.S.
Months after the balloon was finally shot down over the Atlantic Ocean in February, officials acknowledged that the aircraft was equipped with surveillance technology and had been traveling over sensitive American military facilities earlier this year gathering information to report back to China in real time.
The spy balloon hasn’t been the only incidence of recent Chinese intrusion into U.S. territory.
In April, two New York men were arrested and charged for allegedly “opening and operating an illegal overseas police station” in an office building in Manhattan’s Chinatown on behalf of the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) of Communist China.
In recent months, Republican leaders, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, have moved to ban China from acquiring U.S. farmland as Chinese buyers purchased a record $6.1 billion in U.S. real estate in 2021.
Lawmakers have also banned social media app TikTok on government devices in all federal agencies and more than half of all states over its ties to the (CCP), and Montana last month became the first state to implement a total statewide ban on the app. Federal lawmakers and the Biden administration have also floated a nationwide ban, though progress has largely ground to a halt over conservative worries about an undue expansion of federal powers.