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Congress leaders probe CIA, State Department on China's Cuba spy base

Letter first obtained by Scripps News: Congress wants William Burns and Antony Blinken to brief them on China's activities in Cuba by July 14.
Congress leaders probe CIA, State Department on China's Cuba spy base
Posted at 8:52 AM, Jun 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-23 11:12:08-04

Top Congressional leaders are calling on the CIA and the State Department to brief Congress amid growing concerns that China is building a spy facility in Cuba, according to a letter first obtained by Scripps News.

It comes as tensions continue to rise over China and its plans to increase its operations in Cuba, which is located just 90 miles from the continental United States.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, D-NJ, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mike McCaul, R-Texas, are calling on CIA Director William Burns and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to brief them on China’s activities in Cuba by July 14, according to a letter sent to Burns and Blinken first obtained by Scripps News.

"It is imperative that we understand in full detail: the exact nature and objectives of the PRC’s intelligence gathering in Cuba and military partnership with the regime; the implications of such efforts for U.S. national interests; and what the Biden Administration is doing to mitigate such efforts and deter their further expansion with Cuba and the Western Hemisphere," the letter says.

SEE MORE: US confirms China has had a spy base in Cuba since at least 2019

It's the first official acknowledgement from Congress that it would have significant concerns for the base.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that Cuba has given China the green light to build an eavesdropping facility on the island, while Cuba and China have pushed back against the report.

Recently, the Biden administration revealed that China has had a spy base in Cuba since at least 2019, after initially denying its existence.

Trump administration officials have said they were not aware of the existence of a Chinese base in Cuba during their time in office.

But during a Sunday appearance on CNN, former Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he "would not be surprised" if one existed.

During Blinken's last meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Blinken said he made it clear to Beijing that the U.S. "would have deep concerns" about China increasing its intelligence or military activities in Cuba.

"Did you raise the listening post in Cuba that was recently disclosed?" CBS News anchor Margaret Brennan asked Blinken in aninterview earlier this week.

"I did; I'm not going to characterize their response, but I told them that this is a serious concern for us," Blinken said.


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