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China Expands Its Surveillance Capabilities in America’s Backyard, Report Finds

Last Updated 3 weeks by Amnon J. Jobi | Amnon Front Page

by Jake Smith

 

China’s surveillance efforts off the coast of America’s shores are expanding, according to a new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on Monday.

DCNF-logoChina has been closely collaborating with Cuba — located just about 200 miles off the coast of Florida — to expand its military and intelligence presence on the island since at least 2019. Satellite imagery reviewed by CSIS appears to show that Cuba is building on its existing infrastructure in the region and now has multiple signal intelligence (SIGINT) facilities on the island, furthering concerns that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is attempting surveillance efforts inside the U.S., according to The Wall Street Journal.

“These are active locations with an evolving mission set,” Matthew Funaiole, a senior fellow at CSIS and the report’s chief author, told the WSJ.

The satellite imagery reviewed by CSIS depicts four upgraded and expanded military and intelligence installations in locations across Cuba. Some of these sites were identified in previous reporting, but the report outlines further expansion efforts and likely ties to the CCP.

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The most recent site still under construction and whose existence was not previously reported is in Eastern Cuba, appearing to be built for a complex and advanced antenna network used to pick up electronic signals, according to CSIS.

Analysts and former U.S. officials expressed concern that these sites are being used by China to siphon sensitive communications from American military and space installations and shipping networks, according to the WSJ. These facilities “could also bolster China’s use of telecommunications networks to spy on U.S. citizens,” Leland Lazarus, an expert on China-Latin America relations at Florida International University, told the WSJ.

The U.S. intelligence network released its annual threat assessment in February and confirmed that China was “considering pursuing military facilities in multiple locations,” including Cuba, but did not elaborate on further details.

More broadly, China is expanding its foothold across various locations in Latin and Central America, bolstering trade relations to record-level highs with the region in 2023 while acting as its largest provider of debt, increasing those countries’ economic reliance on Beijing. China’s military cooperation with the region has similarly grown, with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) providing training and increasing arms sales to various countries in Latin America in the Caribbean.

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China has also potentially bolstered its surveillance efforts directly inside the U.S. Several CCP-linked companies have bought up farmland inside the U.S. in recent years, some near sensitive military installations, raising concerns from lawmakers and promoting new legislations to prevent land buyup by these companies.

A Chinese intelligence network was operating at least seven different “service center” locations in cities across the U.S. as of June 2023, according to a previous review of state media and government records by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is playing offense in our backyard,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Jake Smith is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Xi Jinping” by Dati Bendo. CC BY 4.0. Background Photo “El Capitolio Havana Cuba” by Nigel Pacquette. CC BY-SA 3.0.

 

 


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