China made an agreement with Cuba on Thursday to set up a spy base on the island near the United States, which the Pentagon declined to comment. According to the Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous US sources, the secret agreement plans to install a wiretapping station on this Caribbean island, about 200 km off the coast of Florida where major US military bases are located.
China, with which the United States is competing fiercely, will pay Cuba "several billion dollars" to build the facility, the business daily wrote Thursday morning. The Pentagon on Thursday neither confirmed nor denied the report. "We are not going to comment on this information," a U.S. Department of Defense official said on condition of anonymity. "Beyond that," he added, "we are very attentive to China's attempts to invest in infrastructure, around the world, that could have military objectives," especially in the Americas.
"We will continue to monitor this closely, and we remain confident in our ability to deliver on all our security commitments, both at home and in the region." Chinese President Xi Jinping is leading an expansion of China's military presence across the globe in order to compete with the US military, which is present on all continents. But the installation of a base in Cuba, closer to the coast of Florida, would be a new step for Beijing and would be seen by Washington as an unprecedented threat on its territory.
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During the Cold War, the Soviets had electronic espionage facilities on Cuba, run by a communist government. But in 1962, the United States observed missile launch pads there, within reach of American shores. President Kennedy decided on a maritime blockade of the island and for a few days, the threat of an open - and nuclear - conflict between the two superpowers was at its height. The USSR finally abandoned its project, and the United States withdrew its missiles from Turkey. In January and February 2023, a Chinese balloon described by Washington as a spy flew over the United States before a U.S. fighter shot it down, causing a cooling in relations between China and the United States.