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Photos show China expanding spy stations in Cuba, 1 near US naval base

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New satellite imagery shows China may be expanding electronic spying stations in Cuba. The island is just 90 miles south of Florida, giving it an ideal position to monitor sensitive U.S. communications and maritime activity in the region.

This latest development follows the Pentagon’s 2023 denial of a reported agreement between China and Cuba to construct an electronic eavesdropping facility in Cuba. At the time, the Pentagon press secretary labeled the report as “inaccurate.”

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“I can tell you based on the information we have that is not accurate,” Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said during a press briefing in 2023. “We are not aware of China and Cuba developing any type of spy station.”

Despite the denials, there is growing evidence suggesting Chinese interest in using Cuba as a surveillance hub, directly challenging U.S. dominance in the region.

China’s goal to expand its military presence globally is well-documented, and Cuba offers an ideal foothold for the People’s Liberation Army in the Caribbean. According to a report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Cuba is one of several countries where China aims to set up military bases.

Despite official secrecy surrounding China’s activities, recent imagery offers a comprehensive look at four active sites likely used for electronic surveillance operations.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies recently released a report about ongoing construction near the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, signaling deepening defense and intelligence ties between China and Cuba.

Chinese involvement in Cuba’s technology sector is extensive, with tech giants Huawei and ZTE playing pivotal roles in shaping Cuba’s telecommunications infrastructure. Both companies are blacklisted by the U.S. for espionage risks.

A notable new site at El Salao houses a sophisticated antenna array designed for signal interception — a technology still valued by China even after its abandonment by the U.S. and Russia post-Cold War.

Other sites like Bejucal and Calabazar have been significantly upgraded, including the installation of large dish antennas that enhance China’s space communications and surveillance capabilities.

The CSIS report emphasizes the strategic use of Cuba’s proximity to the southeastern U.S. for intelligence gathering by China. The expansion means China could intercept communications from U.S. military bases, space-launch facilities and commercial shipping routes.

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[RYAN ROBERTSON]

NEW SATELLITE IMAGERY SHOWS CHINA MAY BE EXPANDING SOME ELECTRONIC SPYING STATIONS IN CUBA–
THE ISLAND IS JUST 90 MILES SOUTH OF FLORIDA, GIVING IT AN IDEAL POSITION TO MONITOR SENSITIVE U-S COMMUNICATIONS AND MARITIME ACTIVITY IN THE REGION.

THIS LATEST DEVELOPMENT FOLLOWS LAST YEAR’S DENIAL BY THE PENTAGON OF A REPORTED AGREEMENT BETWEEN CHINA AND CUBA TO CONSTRUCT AN ELECTRONIC EAVESDROPPING FACILITY ON CUBA. AT THE TIME, THE PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY GENERAL PAT RYDER LABELED THE REPORT AS ‘INACCURATE.’

JUNE 8, 2023
MAJ. GEN. PAT RYDER
PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY
“I can tell you based on the information we have that is not accurate. We are not aware of China and Cuba developing any type of spy station.”

DESPITE THE DENIALS, THERE IS GROWING EVIDENCE SUGGESTING A CHINESE INTEREST IN USING CUBA AS A SURVEILLANCE HUB, DIRECTLY CHALLENGING U.S. DOMINANCE IN THE REGION.

CHINA’S GOAL TO EXPAND ITS MILITARY PRESENCE GLOBALLY IS WELL DOCUMENTED, AND AS WE MENTIONED EARLIER–
CUBA OFFERS AN IDEAL FOOTHOLD FOR THE PEOPLE’S LIBERATION ARMY IN THE CARIBBEAN. ACCORDING TO A REPORT FROM THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE, CUBA IS ONE OF SEVERAL COUNTRIES WHERE CHINA AIMS TO SET UP MILITARY BASES.

DESPITE OFFICIAL SECRECY SURROUNDING CHINA’S ACTIVITIES, THE RECENT IMAGERY OFFERS A COMPREHENSIVE LOOK AT FOUR ACTIVE SITES LIKELY USED FOR ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE OPERATIONS.

THE CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES RECENTLY RELEASED A REPORT ABOUT ONGOING CONSTRUCTION NEAR THE U.S. NAVAL BASE AT GUANTANAMO BAY, SIGNALING DEEPENING DEFENSE AND INTELLIGENCE TIES BETWEEN CHINA AND CUBA.

CHINESE INVOLVEMENT IN CUBA’S TECHNOLOGY SECTOR IS EXTENSIVE, WITH TECH GIANTS HUAWEI AND ZTE PLAYING PIVOTAL ROLES IN SHAPING CUBA’S TELECOMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE. BOTH OF THE COMPANIES ARE BLACKLISTED BY THE U.S. FOR ESPIONAGE RISKS—

A NOTABLE NEW SITE AT EL SALAO HOUSES A SOPHISTICATED ANTENNA ARRAY, DESIGNED FOR SIGNAL INTERCEPTION—A TECHNOLOGY STILL VALUED BY CHINA EVEN AFTER ITS ABANDONMENT BY THE U.S. AND RUSSIA POST-COLD WAR.

OTHER SITES LIKE BEJUCAL AND CALABAZAR ARE SIGNIFICANTLY UPGRADED, INCLUDING THE INSTALLATION OF LARGE DISH ANTENNAS THAT ENHANCE CHINA’S SPACE COMMUNICATIONS AND SURVEILLANCE CAPABILITIES.

THE CSIS REPORT EMPHASIZES THE STRATEGIC USE OF CUBA’S PROXIMITY TO THE SOUTHEASTERN U.S. FOR INTELLIGENCE GATHERING BY CHINA.
THE EXPANSION MEANS CHINA COULD INTERCEPT COMMUNICATIONS FROM U.S. MILITARY BASES, SPACE-LAUNCH FACILITIES, AND COMMERCIAL SHIPPING ROUTES.

I’M RYAN ROBERTSON

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