Cuba is always willing and ready to bring harm to the United States, and all the cash the Castro dictatorship will receive from China in exchange for a base of operations on the island is just icing on the communist cake.
China Plans With Cuba for Global Dominance
Their spy base will gather information on key military facilities and command headquarters in Florida.
It has long been clear that China and Cuba, among the handful of remaining communist countries, view the U.S. as a common enemy. A fuller picture of their common cause was revealed recently, first by the Journal and then by government disclosure that China is using Cuba for eavesdropping and military training. China has been running extensive spying operations out of Cuba and secretly arming Havana for more than two decades. As far back as 2001, U.S. intelligence was reported to have known the existence of the Chinese eavesdropping operation in Cuba.
These espionage efforts began in earnest after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Fidel Castro’s regime lost the support the Soviets had provided since the 1960s. The Chinese Communist Party, which viewed the Soviet collapse as a betrayal of the communist cause, quickly seized the opportunity to use Cuba as a front-line anti-American station. As a result, Beijing and Havana have signed a series of agreements—some open, others secret—that have allowed China to modernize Cuba’s obsolete Soviet weapons and telecommunications systems.
The influx of Chinese weapons into Cuba is in direct violation of countless U.S. sanctions. Most of these weapons have been ferried over, under disguise as normal shipments of commercial goods, by Chinese shipping giant Cosco. The quantity and quality of the shipments increased after April 2001, when a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft and a Chinese interceptor jet collided in midair over international waters near the Chinese island of Hainan. In a subsequent visit to Cuba, the Communist Party’s General Secretary Jiang Zemin seized on the incident as an opportunity to seal new spy agreements with Havana. Since then, Cuba has been a base for Chinese military and security personnel focused on the U.S.
Occasionally, China’s illicit arms shipments are caught and exposed. In March 2015, a 28,000-ton Cosco transport ship with self-loading cranes stopped at a Colombian port for replenishment en route to Cuba. When Colombian customs agents boarded it, they discovered a large undeclared cache of Chinese arms, including 99 rockets, 3,000 cannon shells, 100 tons of military-grade dynamite and 2.6 million detonators, all manufactured by the Communist Party’s defense manufacturer Norinco. These munitions had been hidden under the declared merchandise on the Cosco ship.
China’s eavesdropping efforts from Cuba target Florida, which has one of the highest concentrations of U.S. military facilities and command headquarters in the nation. Three out of 10 U.S. combatant commands for global military operations are in the Sunshine State: Central Command and Special Operations Command, both in Tampa, and Southern Command in Doral. The Navy’s 4th Fleet is headquartered in Mayport; the largest Naval Air Station in the Southeast is in Jacksonville; and the primary Navy pilot training base is in Pensacola. There are also several key U.S. Air Force bases that call Florida home. And Florida hosts the nation’s premier space research and launch facilities.
Eavesdropping on the military-communications traffic between these facilities will provide China with important insights into how U.S. forces train and plan for conflict. Setting aside the politically potent symbolism of a foreign spy station 90 miles from the U.S. mainland, the joint eavesdropping project between Havana and Beijing poses a national-security problem of the most serious order. For the past 20 years, both political parties have been willfully indolent about this threat. American leaders of all political stripes must remove their blinders and confront it.
Now is a good time to start. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed “deep concerns” over this Cuba-China intelligence and military cooperation to Chinese leaders last week. China’s spying installations and military training in Cuba reflect the Communist Party’s plans for global dominance. Every day the Chinese are allowed to spy from Cuba brings those plans closer to fruition.
Mr. Yu served as China policy and planning adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, 2018-21.