Havana on Thursday described press reports that China intends to establish a monitoring base in Cuba off the US coast as “false and baseless,” while the White House also said that these reports were “inaccurate.”
Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cosio said in a statement read out to the press in Havana, “The American Wall Street Journal published on June 8 completely false and unfounded information stating that there was an agreement between Cuba and China in the military field to establish a supposed spy base.”
He added that Cuba “rejects any foreign military presence” in Latin America, “including the many military bases and (affiliated) forces of the United States,” considering that “slanders of this kind are often fabricated by US officials.”
What did the American reports say?
- The Wall Street Journal reported that Beijing and Havana struck a secret deal to set up a Chinese electronic eavesdropping facility on the Caribbean island that would enable it to monitor communications across the southeastern United States.
- The newspaper quoted unnamed US officials as saying that China will pay Cuba “several billions of dollars” in exchange for the construction of the facility.
- Likewise, the American “CNN” channel quoted “sources close to the American intelligence” as saying that there was a similar agreement.
- The network reported that “the United States learned about this project during the past few weeks,” but “it is not yet confirmed whether China has started building the monitoring facility.”
How did the White House and officials in the United States deal with these reports?
- The White House on Thursday also denied reports that China intends to establish a monitoring base in Cuba off the US coast.
- Earlier, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby denied the reports.
- In a statement to MSNBC, Kirby said, “I saw that press report. It’s not accurate.”
- Kirby added, “What I can tell you is that we’ve been concerned since day one of this administration about Chinese influence activities around the world, certainly in this hemisphere and in this region. We’re watching that very closely.”
- In turn, Pentagon spokesman Pat Riley described the “Wall Street Journal” report as inaccurate, saying: “We have no knowledge of China and Cuba building any spying station of any kind. The relations that these two countries establish is something we constantly monitor.”
- Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Republican Marco Rubio, who chair the Senate Intelligence Committee and are usually briefed on important security issues, expressed in a statement “grave concern” about the “Wall Street Journal” report.
- “The United States must respond to China’s continued and brazen attacks on our country’s security,” their joint statement read.
- “It is unacceptable for China to set up an intelligence facility within 100 miles of Florida and the United States,” the statement continued.
Where is the danger of such a facility?
- A base in Cuba, located just 150 kilometers off the coast of southern Florida, would pose the most direct threat yet to the US mainland.
- In the eastern United States is the headquarters of the Army’s Southern and Central Command, both in Florida.
- The Soviet Union had electronic espionage facilities in Cuba to monitor the United States.
- In 1962, Moscow established a nuclear missile base in Cuba, and the United States imposed a blockade on the island, which threatened to clash the two superpowers at the time, before reaching an agreement to resolve the crisis.
- The Soviet Union withdrew nuclear missiles from Cuba, while Washington withdrew its nuclear-capable missiles from Turkey, after the Soviets considered it a threat to them.
- Reports of the Chinese move in Cuba come after a Chinese high-altitude balloon was spotted over the United States earlier this year, crossing from the country’s west to east over sensitive military installations before being shot down by a US fighter off the east coast.
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