In what could be a shocking Chinese entry into the US backyard, Beijing is allegedly building a spy base in Cuba, allowing Beijing to presumably eavesdrop on electronic communications throughout the southeast of the United States.
This was told to CNN by two sources with knowledge of the matter. According to the report, the first source claimed that the US only recently became aware of the idea, and it is unknown whether China has already started construction on the surveillance station.
The second source, familiar with the intelligence, further said that an agreement had been reached in principle but that nothing had been done to take the construction of the alleged spy facility forward. The assertion made by these sources immediately took the world by storm.
According to The Wall Street Journal, which initially reported the “secret” arrangement citing US sources involved with the idea, Beijing is alleged to have provided Havana financial payments on the order of “several billion” US dollars so that it could develop the facility.
Ever since the alleged arrangement came to light, it has been speculated that the location of such an outpost, which would be roughly 100 miles from Florida, would theoretically allow China to monitor a variety of communications, including emails, phone calls, and satellite broadcasts throughout the Southeast United States, which is home to many military sites.
However, after creating a lot of frenzy in the United States and among its allies in the region, the claims were derided by US officials as “inaccurate.” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in a statement on the afternoon of June 8: “This report is not accurate.”
“We have had real concerns about China’s relationship with Cuba, and we have been concerned since day one of the administration about China’s activities in our hemisphere and worldwide. We are closely monitoring it and taking steps to counter it. We remain confident that we can meet all our security commitments at home and in the region,” Kirby added.
The assertion made by the White House essentially put breaks on the controversy, which led to calls for a tougher stance against China fueled by fresh worries about risks to national security coming from Beijing.
Recently, tensions intensified between US and China when the US military announced on June 4 that its destroyer USS Chung-Hoon, and a Canadian frigate HSMC Montreal, were conducting a “routine” transit of the Taiwan strait when a Chinese warship Luyang III-class guided-missile destroyer, cut in front of the US vessel, coming within 150 yards (137 meters).
Moreover, tensions have been soaring over Chinese attempts at spying on the United States. In February this year, the US Air Force shot down a Chinese spy balloon hovering over the continental United States and its strategic military facilities. The incident triggered global alarm about China’s alleged spying efforts.
Besides that, China signed an agreement with Solomon’s Island last year, triggering concerns that the country would eventually establish a military base close to Australia. Both Canberra and Washington were outraged at the time. However, a spying facility in Southern America could be a red line for the US.
Even though Pentagon officials have now refused these reports, the incident has once again put Cuba in focus, where the rivalry between the US and its adversary almost triggered a nuclear war.
Cuba Was Caught Between US & Russia
The Cuban Missile Crisis, which occurred in October 1962, was a 13-day conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union that erupted into a global crisis when American missile deployments in Italy and Turkey were matched by Soviet deployments of similar ballistic missiles in Cuba.
It started with the US government deploying the lethal Jupiter nuclear missiles in Turkey and Italy in 1961. In addition to these deployments, the CIA commanded a paramilitary army of Cuban exiles that it had also trained to invade Cuba and overthrow the government.
At the time, the Soviet government was simultaneously worried about Cuba drifting closer to China because of the Soviets’ deteriorating relationship with the country.
Nikita Khrushchev, the first secretary of the Soviet Union, and Fidel Castro, the prime minister of Cuba, decided to deploy nuclear weapons in Cuba to ward against further invasions in reaction to these collective circumstances.
Khrushchev and Castro secretly met secretly in July 1962 and agreed to the deployment. Later that summer, work on several missile launch facilities began.
As for the US, the White House disregarded the location of Soviet missiles located around 90 miles (140 kilometers) away from Florida when the 1962 presidential election campaign was in full swing. Such missiles could hit much of the eastern United States within a few minutes if launched from Cuba.
Later, the missile preparations were confirmed when a US Air Force U-2 spy plane produced unequivocal photographic proof of medium-range R-12 (NATO code name SS-4) and intermediate-range R-14 (NATO code name SS-5) ballistic missile facilities.
When President John F Kennedy was informed of this, he was initially counseled to launch an airstrike on Cuban soil to jeopardize Soviet missile supplies and then invade the country.
However, President Kennedy decided against making a formal declaration of war. On October 22, Kennedy issued a naval “quarantine” to stop more missiles from reaching Cuba.
The United States could dodge the ramifications of a state of war by using the phrase “quarantine” instead of “blockade,” which could have been a definition of an act of war.
The US requested that any offensive weapons already in Cuba be dismantled and sent back to the Soviet Union and declared it would not permit the delivery of such weapons to Cuba.
After several days of tense negotiations, Kennedy and Khrushchev agreed. In exchange for a US public declaration and agreement not to invade Cuba again, the Soviet Union would publicly dismantle its offensive weapons in Cuba and return them to the USSR, subject to UN verification.
The US and the USSR secretly agreed to decommission all Jupiter missiles stationed in Turkey. Whether Italy was included in the accord has been a subject of discussion.
Some Soviet bombers stayed in Cuba as the Soviets destroyed their missiles, and the United States maintained the naval embargo until November 20, 1962.
The blockade was officially lifted on November 20 after all offensive missiles and Ilyushin Il-28 light bombers were removed from Cuba. The US-Soviet relationship reached its most hostile point during the Cuban missile crisis.
The situation was close to reaching a nuclear war. The suspected adventurism in Cuba by China has once again brought back memories of this Latin American state becoming a zone of great power competition between the US and its biggest adversaries.