Suspected Chinese Spy Bases In Cuba Have Undergone Expansion

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By Frank Fang of Epoch Times

Cuba has upgraded and expanded four electronic surveillance facilities, including one near the Guantanamo Bay naval base, amid growing concern about China’s spying efforts in the United States’ backyard, according to a new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

“While China’s activities on the island remain shrouded in secrecy, satellite imagery analyzed by CSIS provides the latest and most comprehensive assessment of where China is most likely operating,” the report reads.

The report pointed to four active sites at Bejucal, El Salao, Wajay, and Calabazar. It added that the four locations are “strategically located” and are “among the most likely locations supporting China’s efforts to spy on the United States.”

In June 2023, the White House confirmed that China has been operating a spy base in Cuba since at least 2019. In the same month, the State Department warned that the Chinese regime will “keep trying to enhance its presence in Cuba,” and the United States “will keep working to disrupt it.”

China’s surveillance activities in Cuba are a grave national security concern for the United States, given that Florida is home to numerous U.S. military bases, including the headquarters of the U.S. Central Command and the U.S. Southern Command, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, and Eglin Air Force Base.

“Collecting data on activities like military exercises, missile tests, rocket launches, and submarine maneuvers would allow China to develop a more sophisticated picture of U.S. military practices,” the report reads.

Facilities

The facility near the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay has not previously been publicly reported, the report stated. It is located east of the city of Santiago de Cuba near a neighborhood called El Salao.

The El Salao facility, under construction since 2021, appears to be a circularly disposed antenna array (CDAA) with an estimated diameter of 130 to 200 meters (about 425 to 655 feet), according to the report. CDAAs of that size could track and determine the origin and direction of high-frequency signals coming from 3,000 to 8,000 nautical miles away, the report added.

“Once operational, this CDAA will serve as a powerful tool for enhancing air and maritime domain awareness in the region, where the U.S. military and its international partners operate regularly,” the report reads.

If China had access to the El Salao facility, CSIS noted Beijing would obtain a “highly strategic point” near the Guantanamo Bay naval base.

The report added that China has been building new CDAAs on its militarized outpost on Mischief Reef and Subi Reef in the South China Sea.

The facilities in Bejucal, Wajay, and Calabazar are all near Cuba’s capital Havana, according to the report.

The Bejucal facility is Cuba’s largest active signals intelligence collection site, the report said, and added that it has been connected to suspected Chinese intelligence activities for decades.

Based on satellite images from March 2024, CSIS concluded that the Bejucal facility has “undergone major updates” in the past decade, signaling “a clear indication of an evolving mission set.”

The report also pointed to the “growth of space-monitoring equipment” at Bejucal and Calabazar, meaning that these two facilities are “likely intended to monitor” space-active countries, like the United States.

The Wajay facility has also expanded in the past 20 years, going from one antenna and several small buildings in 2002, to 12 antennas of various sizes and orientations and a “robust complex,” according to the report. CSIS said that there have been unsubstantiated rumors that China “played a role in either the [Wajay] site’s construction or its modernization.”

“Even if China does not have direct access to facilities there, the data collected by Cuban counterparts could be readily shared with Beijing,” the report reads, noting that two U.S. blacklisted Chinese tech firms, Huawei and ZTE, make up “the backbone of Cuba’s telecommunications infrastructure.”

Responses

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Cuba’s ruling Communist Party have deepened their ties over the years.

In 2021, the two countries signed a cooperation plan to push forward construction projects under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). According to the State Department, China’s BRI “preys on other countries via unsustainable and corrupt lending while ignoring global labor and environmental standards.”

In February, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report naming Cuba as one of several countries that China is reportedly considering setting up military installations.

He Weidong, vice chairman of China’s top military body, the Central Military Commission (CMC), met with Cuban General Víctor Rojo Ramos, in China’s capital in April. According to China’s official military news website, the two talked about how China and Cuba enjoyed an “unbreakable friendship” and should support each other’s “core interests.”

The Biden administration and some Republican lawmakers from Florida have responded to CSIS’s findings.

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