Correction: The White House has reached out to Cuba over a Chinese surveillance facility that has been on the island nation since at least 2019. The information was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.
The Biden administration has expressed “concerns” to the Cuban government for hosting a Chinese spy operation on the island since at least 2019, national security council spokesperson John Kirby said on Monday.
“We’ve made our concerns known,” he said.
The White House over the weekend said that China has had a spy base in Cuba since at least 2019, after earlier describing as “inaccurate” a Wall Street Journal report that such a facility was in the works.
“We communicated over the weekend; this is not a new development that China’s been trying to achieve some intelligence gathering capabilities in Cuba,” Kirby said.
“After the first stories appeared, we worked very, very hard, as expeditiously as we could with the intelligence community, to try to get some context downgraded so that we can provide it over the weekend, and we did that.”
Kirby said that the U.S. has taken steps to “mitigate” the threat from Chinese spying activities, acknowledging that relations between Washington and Beijing are “tense.”
But President Biden is intent on working to improve lines of communication with Beijing, Kirby continued, in particular to convince Chinese officials to establish direct military-to-military channels that the U.S. says are key in managing conflicts.
“Some of the important lines of communication, military to military, are not open, and we want to get them back open,” he said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is reportedly preparing to travel to Beijing on June 18 as part of the administration’s efforts at outreach to the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
CIA Director William Burns met with officials in Beijing last month to emphasize the importance of keeping intelligence communication channels open between the U.S. and China.
Kirby would not comment on Blinken’s potential travel, but said he would not expect the revelation about Chinese spying from Cuba to scuttle any such visit.
“The president wants to keep the lines of communication open with the PRC… as for whether this recent reporting out of Cuba is going to affect Secretary Blinken and his travel plans, I would not expect so,” Kirby said.
—Updated at 5:50 p.m.
Source: The Hill