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() — The White House said China has had a spy base in Cuba since at least 2019 in an effort to expand its intelligence gathering, according to the Wall Street Journal Saturday. The White House previously dismissed the reports.
The statement follows a WSJ report Thursday that said Cuba agreed to allow China to establish a spy facility on its island. Officials familiar with the deal said China planned to pay Cuba billions of dollars as part of the agreement.
Reports say the facility is an electronic eavesdropping station on the island, roughly 100 miles from Florida.
On Saturday, the White House said, “This is an ongoing issue, and not a new development, and the arrangement as characterized in the reporting does not comport with our understanding.”
The previous Thursday, officials called the reports inaccurate.
“I can tell you based on the information that we have, that that is not accurate, that we are not aware of China and Cuba developing a new type of spy station,” said Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder.
Following Thursday’s report, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, “spreading rumors and slander” is a common tactic of the “hacker empire,” Reuters reported.
Saturday’s statement from the White House said the Biden administration was briefed on China’s efforts to expand its intelligence operations globally when they took office in January 2021. These briefings included information on “intelligence collection facilities” in Cuba, among other projects.
The statement added, “The Chinese government will keep trying to enhance its presence in Cuba, and we will keep working to disrupt it,” an official said, also citing continued challenges with Beijing’s activities on the island.”