Satellite images reveal expansion of Chinese spy bases near Florida!

By Andrew Powell

Sailors prepare for flight operations on the flight deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea, April 6, 2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alexander B. Williams)

A new report from a Washington, D.C.-based think tank shows how China is quietly expanding its spy presence in Cuba – located less than 100 miles from the U.S. coast.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies released its report, Secret Signals
Decoding China’s Intelligence Activities in Cuba Monday, which shows growing defense and intelligence ties between China and Cuba.

Negotiations between the two nations were reported in 2023, when the White House admitted the U.S. has been aware of Chinese spy facilities located in Cuba since 2019, which included a joint military training facility.

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The CSIS report notes satellite imagery was analyzed to provide an assessment of where China may be operating these facilities in Cuba, although it points out China’s activities are still shrouded in secrecy.

“Sitting less than 100 miles south of Florida, Cuba is well positioned to keep watch on sensitive communications and activities in the region, including those of the U.S. military,” the report reveals.

In total, analysts identified four active site locations in Cuba capable of conducting electronic surveillance that were most likely able to support China’s spying efforts. Calabazar, Bejucal and Wajay are all located closest to the U.S. coastline, while El Salao sits on the opposite side of the island close to U.S.-controlled Guantanamo Bay.

Analysts noted the Chinese are likely using various forms of spy equipment to gather intelligence on Florida-based U.S. military facilities and the space programs in the area.

“Signals intelligence (SIGINT) is a core element of modern spycraft. Intercepting signals transmitted by both civilian and military actors can provide countries with valuable information about their adversaries, competitors, and allies alike,” the report states, adding that collection of SIGNIT is a complex task that requires the use of specialized antennas.

Despite its complexity, analysts believe the use of dish and radar antennas could intercept and collect signals, and emit and receive radio waves to track objects like missiles, ships and aircraft.

“Cuba’s proximity to the southern United States and the Caribbean makes it a prime location for collecting SIGINT on the region. For Beijing, having access to SIGINT capabilities in Cuba would open a significant intelligence window inaccessible from within Chinese territory,” the report states.

Analysts point out that space-monitoring equipment at Bejucal and Calabazar are notable given Cuba does not have its own space program or satellites. Analysts say even limited access would provide China the ability to communicate with space assets of its own.

“Cuban facilities would also provide the ability to monitor radio traffic and potentially intercept data delivered by U.S. satellites as they pass over highly sensitive military sites across the southern United States. Florida alone is home to the major space-launch complex at Cape Canaveral, the headquarters of both the U.S. Southern Command and Central Command, and multiple submarine and other bases,” the report states.

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