CubaBrief:5 US Senators introduce legislation to impose sanctions related to Chinese Spy Base in Cuba. China’s 3 decade presence in Cuba. CFC appeal to Members tasked with national security oversight.

Miguel Diaz-Canel and Xi Jinping shake hands.

China’s expanding espionage role in Cuba has drawn the attention of five Senators who on November 7th introduced “the Countering Espionage and Surveillance Entities in Cuba (CEASE) Act, legislation to impose sanctions on any foreign person that has engaged in a significant transaction or provided material support to or for a Chinese military or intelligence facility in Cuba.”

Washington is reappraising its relationship with China.

Mr. Guillermo Marmol, Chairman, Center for a Free Cuba, Ms. Mary Curtis Horowitz, Vice Chair, Center for a Free Cuba, and Ambassador Otto J. Reich, President, Center for a Free Cuba on June 9, 2023 in an appeal to “the chairs and ranking members in the U.S. Senate of the Intelligence, Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, and in the U.S. House of Representatives of the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Armed Services Committees calling on them to address an urgent matter jeopardizing U.S. national security, the establishment of a major Chinese electronic eavesdropping facility 90 miles from the United States.” The appeal requested that these Members of Congress:

  1. Take immediate action before this plan moves forward. Minimally, all initiatives between Washington and Havana, including closing the US Embassy in Cuba should be put on the table.

  2. Hold hearings, and to urge President Biden, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to move promptly on this urgent threat.

On June 14, 2023 CFC executive director John Suarez and Chinese dissident Jianli Yang co-authored an OpEd in The Washington Times titled “China’s decades-long military presence in Cuba goes beyond espionage” that explored the highs and lows of a relationship that began in 1960 between Communist China and Communist Cuba, and their joint plans for the wider region today. Plans that extend beyond spying on the United States, and shifting the world order away from U.S. dominance.

On November 7, 2023 Lord David Alton, a member of the British House of Lords, tweeted a quote from the June 14th OpEd on China’s global vision. Washington Times: “China’s decades-long military presence in Cuba goes beyond espionage – ⁦@POTUS⁩ ..seeks competition, not conflict, with China, but President Xi Jinping has other plans… a new international world order in its totalitarian image.” In addition to the concerns about espionage, this is what policy makers need to analyze, and take into consideration

Senate Foreign Relations Committee, November 07, 2023

Risch, Barrasso, Hagerty, Ricketts, Cruz Introduce Legislation to Impose Sanctions Related to Chinese Spy Base in Cuba

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), and Ted Cruz (T-Texas) last week introduced the Countering Espionage and Surveillance Entities in Cuba (CEASE) Act, legislation to impose sanctions on any foreign person that has engaged in a significant transaction or provided material support to or for a Chinese military or intelligence facility in Cuba.

“The Chinese Communist Party’s deepening military and intelligence partnership with Cuba directly threatens U.S. national security,” said Risch. “The fact that China has multiple intelligence facilities in Cuba less than 100 miles from our shores and in close range to a U.S. military base proves there is no ‘thaw’ in relations with either of these malign actors. The CEASE Act will provide the tools necessary to counter these urgent threats.”

“The Chinese Communist Party has proven time and time again it is willing to lie, cheat, and steal to advance its economic and military strength. Now China is teaming up with a Cuban dictator to establish spy bases only miles away from our border,” said Barrasso. “This legislation is a critical step in safeguarding our country from these serious security threats.”                                      

“The Chinese Communist Party’s growing malign influence in the Western Hemisphere and strategic ties to Cuba’s Marxist dictatorship pose a threat to U.S. national security,” said Hagerty. “I’m pleased to join my colleagues on this measure to counter the dangers posed by China’s military and intelligence collection facilities in Cuba.”

“We know the Chinese Communist Party’s espionage has no limits, and it is clear the CCP continues to be emboldened by President Biden’s weakness and his administration’s appeasement. The CCP partnering with communist Cuba – just 90 miles off our shores – should concern us all. We need to get serious about confronting our adversaries’ blatant spying attacks,” said Ricketts.

“China is the single greatest geopolitical threat facing the United States will face over the next century. As part of their efforts to erode the safety and security of Americans, China is cooperating with American adversaries across the world, including throughout the Western Hemisphere. Their cooperation with the brutal Cuban regime is incredibly dangerous, and the United States must use all the tools at our disposal to counter it,” said Cruz.

This legislation:

  • Authorizes financial and visa sanctions on foreign persons providing significant material support to or for Chinese military and intelligence facilities in Cuba.

  • Requires a State Department report on diplomatic engagement between China and Cuba, on the military and intelligence activities of China in Cuba, and on any progress verifiably closing Chinese military and intelligence facilities in Cuba.

Text of the CEASE Act can be found here.

https://www.foreign.senate.gov/press/rep/release/risch-barrasso-hagerty-ricketts-cruz-introduce-legislation-to-impose-sanctions-related-to-chinese-spy-base-in-cuba


The Washington Times, June 14, 2023

China’s decades-long military presence in Cuba goes beyond espionage

Illustration on Chinese influence in Cuba by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

By John Suarez and Jianli Yang – – Wednesday, June 14, 2023

OPINION:

President Biden has made it clear that he seeks competition, not conflict, with China, but President Xi Jinping has other plans. China seeks to replace the U.S. as the world’s superpower, create a new international world order in its totalitarian image, and Communist Cuba has been an ally in that effort.

The failure of the U.S. to side consistently with pro-democracy movements in both countries led to lost opportunities and instead empowered two regimes hostile to America while the current administration is repeating the same errors.

There has been a substantial Chinese military presence in Cuba for the past 24 years, and this relationship is not limited to espionage.

The Biden administration’s initial response to an article in The Wall Street Journal that “China was preparing to build a spy station in Cuba” was one of denial, but the existence of Chinese bases spying on the United States forced the White House to walk that back.

Manuel Cereijo, a professor of electronic engineering at Florida International University, reported in a 1999 study: “Chinese personnel have allegedly been working out of the Bejucal listening post since March 1999. In 1995, [Russia] began helping Cuba build the base south of Havana. It is allegedly capable of both eavesdropping and ‘cyber-warfare.’ Chinese workers are reportedly helping Cuba modernize a satellite-tracking center.”

In 2002, in El Nuevo Herald, Mr. Cereijo reported that “Chinese personnel, in collaboration with Cubans on Project Titan, have also built two antenna bases, one in Wajay, Havana, and the other in Santiago de Cuba, known as the antenna farm.”

Although the communist regimes in China and Cuba were established 10 years apart (Mao Zedong in 1949 and the Castro brothers in 1959), the dictatorships have much in common: They see the U.S. as an enemy, and they also see democracy and human rights as hostile to their interests, and anti-Americanism remains a core tenet of their ideology.

On Sept. 28, 1960, the Cuban regime diplomatically recognized China. This was at a time when Havana maintained normal diplomatic relations with the United States and had not declared its communist nature, and no sanctions had been imposed. 

In November 1960, Ernesto “Che” Guevara led a Cuban delegation to China, where he met with Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and other high-ranking Chinese officials to discuss conditions in Cuba and Latin America, as well as the prospects for spreading communism across the Western Hemisphere. Between 1960 and 1964, Beijing and Havana worked closely together. When the Castro regime sided with the Soviet Union in the Sino-Soviet split in 1964, these connections cooled.

Under Castroism, Havana’s ties with foreign countries were frequently defined by their antipathy toward and threat to the United States. From 1959 through 1991, the Soviet Union was regarded as an existential danger to the United States, and Havana maintained close ties with Moscow. Relations with Havana cooled as Mikhail Gorbachev began to push human rights and market reforms in the Soviet Union in 1985.

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro openly supported Beijing’s Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, and his government was one of the few in the world to do so. This backing resulted in Chinese President Jiang Zemin’s high-level visit to Cuba in 1993, followed by Raul Castro’s first visit to China in 1997. These travels were publicly utilized to sign new trade and investment deals, but they were also used to push more strategic and ideological objectives.

After negotiations between Raul Castro and Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian, as well as Gen. Dong Liang Ju, an agreement was reached between Beijing and Havana in 1999 under which Chinese military personnel would use the Bejucal base and others alongside Cuban military personnel to spy on the U.S.

The Washington Times reported on June 12, 2001, that “at least three arms shipments were traced from China to the Cuban port of Mariel over the past several months.” U.S. intelligence authorities were sourced saying, “all of the weapons were aboard vessels owned by the state-run China Ocean Shipping Co. (Cosco).” Military-grade dual-use explosives and detonation cords were among the goods. 

According to the story, the latest of these three shipments arrived in December 2000, coinciding with a visit to Cuba that month of Beijing’s military chief of staff, Fu Quanyou. The Chinese general “signed a military cooperation agreement with Havana aimed at modernizing Cuba‘s outdated Russian weapons,” The Times said.

Colombia intercepted a Chinese ship smuggling weapons intended for Cuba in 2015.

Official visits continued with Fidel Castro’s trip to China in 2003 and Raul Castro’s in 2012, while Mr. Xi made his first visit to Cuba in 2014. These high-level visits have continued to this day and do not bode well for U.S. interests.

Despite this, the Biden administration has maintained that Washington is “determined to avoid” a cold war with Beijing. The incident involving China’s spy station in Cuba is only the latest evidence that Cold War 2.0 has already begun.

The administration should stop denying it. Instead, it should accept that Beijing and Washington’s relationship is what it is and ensure that the U.S. wins the new Cold War.

• John Suarez is executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba and a human rights activist. Jianli Yang is founder and president of Citizen Power Initiatives for China and the author of “It’s Time for a Values-Based ‘Economic NATO.’”

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/jun/14/chinas-decades-long-military-presence-in-cuba-goes/

Center for a Free Cuba, June 9, 2023

Urgent appeal by Center for a Free Cuba to Chairs and Ranking members in the Senate and House tasked with U.S. national security oversight 

June 9, 2023                                                                                                                                                                                           

Washington DC. Center for a Free Cuba. The following urgent appeal was sent today to the chairs and ranking members in the U.S. Senate of the Intelligence, Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, and in the U.S. House of Representatives of the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Armed Services Committees calling on them to address an urgent matter jeopardizing U.S. national security, the establishment of a major Chinese electronic eavesdropping facility 90 miles from the United States.

 

The appeal sent by the Center for a Free Cuba asks these Members of Congress to:

1) Take immediate action before this plan moves forward. Minimally, all initiatives between Washington and Havana, including closing the US Embassy in Cuba should be put on the table.

2) Hold hearings, and to urge President Biden, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to move promptly on this urgent threat.

This appeal is made by Mr. Guillermo Marmol, Chairman of the Center for a Free Cuba,  Ms. Mary Curtis Horowitz, Vice Chair of the Center for a Free Cuba, and Ambassador Otto J. Reich, President of the Center for a Free Cuba.

Below is the text of the full appeal:

Dear Member of Congress:

We are calling on you to address an urgent matter jeopardizing the national security of the United States. The eyes of the world are focused on Ukraine (and Cuba has played a nefarious role in that conflict) but our immediate concern is Cuba’s agreement with China to establish an electronic eavesdropping facility on the island.

The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported that “China and Cuba have reached a secret agreement for China to establish an electronic eavesdropping facility on the island, in a brash new geopolitical challenge by Beijing to the U.S., according to U.S. officials familiar with highly classified intelligence.”

Cuba is known to have engaged in sophisticated espionage throughout the world as an adjunct to the Soviet KGB and now the FSB. It’s spying inside the United States, as the case of DIA’s Ana Belen Montes demonstrates, has had a destructive effect. Nor is Havana’s support of China’s intelligence operations new; China has long benefited from Cuban spy operations around the world, and China took over operations at Lourdes and Bejucal when the Russians left after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

But this new facility represents a major change in scale and potential impact. Havana is expected to receive several billion dollars from Beijing for this state of the art facility. Once operational, it could have devastating consequences. We ask that you take immediate action before this plan moves forward. Minimally, all initiatives between Washington and Havana, including closing the US Embassy should be put on the table.

We also ask that you hold hearings, and to urge President Biden, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to move promptly on this urgent threat.

 

Yours very truly,

 

Mr. Guillermo Marmol, Chairman, Center for a Free Cuba

Ms. Mary Curtis Horowitz, Vice Chair, Center for a Free Cuba

Ambassador Otto J. Reich, President, Center for a Free Cuba

https://www.cubacenter.org/articles-and-events/2023/6/9/press-advisory-urgent-appeal-by-center-for-a-free-cuba-to-chairs-and-ranking-members-in-the-senate-and-house-tasked-with-us-national-security-oversightnbsp