Washington [US], June 10 (ANI): Pentagon dismissed reports of a secret pact between China and Cuba that would enable Beijing to construct an electronic eavesdropping facility on the island, located 160 kilometers from the United States and called it "not accurate.", Voice of America (VOA) reported.
"I can tell you, based on the information that we have, that that is not accurate - that we are not aware of China and Cuba developing any type of spy station," Brigadier General Pat Ryder, the Pentagon's press secretary, told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday.
According to the reports, which first appeared in The Wall Street Journal citing unnamed intelligence officials, China had agreed to pay financially hard-pressed Cuba several billion dollars for the spy facility, which would allow China to collect electronic communications from throughout the southeastern United States, where numerous military bases are located, VOA reported.
Ryder added that the Pentagon was not aware of China setting up any type of military base in Cuba or elsewhere in the region.
However, he cautioned that the relationship between Cuba and China is something that the Pentagon monitors, along with any type of "coercive activity or belligerent activity" by China in the Western Hemisphere.
A senior White House official also described the media reports as "not accurate."A Defense Department official, who declined to comment directly on the reports, told VOA the US was still "able to meet all our security commitments at home and across the region.""On a broader level, we are very aware of [China's] attempts to invest in infrastructure around the world that may have military purposes, including in the Western Hemisphere," the official said.
Nicholas Eftimiades, a retired intelligence officer, told VOA Mandarin that Cuba "certainly falls within the footprint to be able to collect the US military communications from some geostationary satellites.""This is an intelligence collection program. It's not unexpected. I would think that this has been coming for quite some period of time," he added. "It's another threat to national security that we have to contend with."The White House and many lawmakers in Congress consider China to be the chief US economic and military rival. The US is the world's biggest economy, and China is the second largest.
Earlier this year, the US. shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon over the Atlantic Ocean, but not before it travelled the breadth of the United States and flew over numerous military bases.
Last weekend, a Chinese warship abruptly sailed across the bow of a US destroyer as it passed through international waters in the Taiwan Strait. The US said the incident forced the American ship to slow down to avoid a collision.
Republican opponents of Biden were quick to attack the administration about the reported Chinese venture into the Western Hemisphere, although it was unclear what, if anything, the US. could do to stop it.
"Joe Biden needs to wake up to the real Chinese threats on our doorstep," Nikki Haley, a former U.N. ambassador and a current Republican presidential candidate, wrote on Twitter.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, the closest US state to Cuba, said on Twitter, "The threat to America from Cuba isn't just real, it is far worse than this." (ANI)