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Two companies may be helping China spy on the U.S. in Cuba

Two companies may be helping China spy on the U.S. in Cuba

According to the U.S. Secret Service, employees of Chinese network equipment suppliers Huawei and ZTE allegedly visited listening stations in Cuba, the “Wall Street Journal” reports. China wants to set up a military training center on the island.

Chinese network equipment suppliers Huawei and ZTE may be helping the Chinese government spy on the US from Cuba. The Wall Street Journal reports. Under former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, U.S. intelligence agencies monitored workers at two cellphone companies when they visited facilities used for Chinese espionage operations. The Trump administration has confirmed that Huawei and ZTE support China in spying on this intelligence. The American newspaper writes that it is not clear whether the government of US President Joe Biden shares this attitude.

The two mobile phone companies do not develop high-tech tools for spying, but specialize in technologies that enable eavesdropping, such as servers or network components, insiders told the newspaper. Huawei denied the “baseless” allegations to the Wall Street Journal. ZTE declined to comment.

The US wants to closely monitor China’s espionage activities in Cuba

There has been no official confirmation from the US government of the role played by Chinese companies in government wiretapping. However, officials have made public that Beijing has not only maintained a spy base in Cuba since at least 2019, but also intends to expand its secret service operations. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the U.S. will closely monitor China’s espionage and military activities in the Caribbean island nation to protect national interests. He made this clear to his counterpart in Beijing during his visit to China. The Chinese government denies using the US front yard island as a listening base.

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Huawei has been helping the Cuban government modernize its telecommunications and internet infrastructure since the 2000s, Mike Gallagher, a Republican from the Committee to Deal with the Chinese Communist Party, said in a letter seen by the US newspaper. ZTE also maintains a permanent office in Cuba. Huawei and ZTE could help Beijing expand its spying capabilities in Cuba as the Chinese military arm itself using technology from domestic contractors.

Austria is also considering opting out

Concerns are not new. Beijing has long been suspected of coercing mobile phone companies to cooperate in spying. Huawei and ZTE have publicly denied any close ties to the Chinese government for years. For example, the US excluded Huawei and ZTE from building a 5G network in 2019. Argument: The two companies’ components in the 5G cellphone network allow the Chinese government to communicate directly. Additionally, China has reportedly inserted a secret “kill switch” that can cut a country off the Internet. In Germany, some components of Huawei and ZTE may soon be banned from mobile networks. In Austria, the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Authority RTR is currently preparing a concept report that will be sent to the Ministry of Finance this year. It will decide how to deal with mobile phone companies in Austria, the State Secretariat for Digitization and Telecommunications told the “press”.

Chinese military in Cuba?

However, the cooperation between the two communist countries, China and Cuba, may go beyond espionage, the Wall Street Journal writes, citing a US intelligence report. Beijing and Havana are in talks to set up a joint military training center on Cuba’s northern coast. The Biden administration is trying to block such a deal. Because China could long-term use this facility to station People’s Liberation Army troops a few dozen kilometers off the coast of Florida. The White House declined to comment on the report. (I)

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