Biden Administration Confirms Chinese Spy Base in Cuba, Shifts Blame to Trump

Biden Administration Confirms Chinese Spy Base in Cuba, Shifts Blame to Trump
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby speaks during a press briefing at the White House on June 6, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Emel Akan

The White House stated on June 12 that the existence of a Chinese spy base in Cuba isn’t a recent development and dates to the time when President Donald Trump was in office.

During a press briefing at the White House, John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, confirmed that the Biden administration is aware of China’s intelligence-collecting capabilities in Cuba and is taking them seriously.

“We’re not going to be able to get into too much detail about our own counterintelligence efforts,” Kirby said. “As we’ve communicated over the weekend, this is not a new development that China’s been trying to achieve some intelligence gathering capabilities in Cuba and, frankly, elsewhere in the hemisphere, and that from day one, when we came in, we took this issue seriously.”

The remarks came after several media outlets reported that Beijing has been operating a spy base in Cuba since 2019.

Previously, both the White House and the Pentagon denied claims that China struck a “secret agreement” with Cuba recently to build a spy base, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The report cited anonymous sources who said Beijing had agreed to pay Cuba billions of dollars for the opportunity to build the spy facility in the United States’ backyard.

Kirby claimed that the report wasn’t accurate but didn’t elaborate on what was incorrect.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Trump administration hadn’t done enough to prevent Chinese ambitions to increase overseas intelligence-gathering.

China upgraded its Cuban intelligence collection facilities in 2019, Blinken told reporters on June 12 at a briefing alongside Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani.

“It was our assessment that despite awareness of the basing efforts and some attempts to address the challenge in the past administration, we weren’t making enough progress on this issue and we needed a more direct approach,” Blinken said.

“And that’s exactly what President Biden instructed his team to do to address the challenge.”

Trump Blames Biden

On his Truth Social account, Trump blamed the Biden administration for the spying facility in Cuba.

“China just, effectively, took over Cuba,” he wrote on June 12. “Would never have happened under the Trump administration!”

John Ratcliffe, director of national intelligence under Trump, denied that there was a Chinese spy facility in Cuba during the Trump administration.

“It’s just absurd, and, just like with the spy balloon situation, you'll see Trump administration officials coming out and saying, ‘It’s simply not true,’” he told Fox News on June 12. “The strategy for the Biden administration is to deny it until we can’t deny it anymore, then find a way to blame the Trump administration for it.”

When pressed about the assertion that the spy facility existed under the Trump administration, Kirby said: “Not an allegation. True. And our assessment is that the previous administration would have had the same access to that intelligence as we did.”

Confusion Over Spy Base

The Biden administration offered conflicting responses to The Wall Street Journal report, causing confusion over the weekend.

Kirby said the White House couldn’t go into more detail because of the sensitive nature of the information.

“The original reporting, as we said, was inaccurate. And we did the best we could in the moment to be as forthcoming as we could,” he said.

“It’s shameful that somebody, or somebodies, somehow think it’s okay to put this kind of information in the public bloodstream.

“The fact that we came out a couple of days later and provided some clarifying information does not mean and should not be taken, as I’ve seen in some of the press reporting, as some kind of walk-back.”

Kirby also said the Biden administration has taken steps to try to mitigate the risks posed by Beijing’s activities.

“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,” he said.

Emel Akan is a senior White House correspondent for The Epoch Times, where she covers the Biden administration. Prior to this role, she covered the economic policies of the Trump administration. Previously, she worked in the financial sector as an investment banker at JPMorgan. She graduated with a master’s degree in business administration from Georgetown University.
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