The Biden administration has taken steps to mitigate efforts by China to potentially spy on the United States following confirmed reports that Beijing has an intelligence base in Cuba.
“We’re confident that we can continue to protect our nation’s secrets in this hemisphere and beyond and that we can continue to defend the country appropriately,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday.
Administration officials confirmed on Sunday that China is working to ramp up its spying capabilities in Cuba. China has had a spy base on the island, which is 90 miles off of South Florida, since at least 2019, officials have said.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Thursday that China and Cuba have reached a secret agreement for China to establish an electronic eavesdropping facility on the island, allowing Chinese intelligence services to “scoop up electronic communications throughout the southeastern U.S., where many military bases are located, and monitor U.S. ship traffic.”
The report, citing officials familiar with the matter, said that China had agreed to pay Cuba several billion dollars to allow it to build the eavesdropping station. The report says U.S. officials described the intelligence on the plans as “convincing.”
The Biden administration initially said the report was “not accurate” before confirming the news.
“The sensitive nature of this information is such that we simply couldn’t go into more detail,” Kirby said before criticizing those who leaked the news to the media.
An anonymous official said the Biden administration said China was looking to expand its overseas logistics, including sites spanning the Atlantic Ocean, Latin America, the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and the Indo-Pacific.
The news of the spy base comes weeks after White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with his Chinese counterpart in Vienna last month to relay that the administration wanted to improve communications with Chinese officials.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Tara Prindiville contributed to this report.