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U.S. diplomacy has slowed China’s expansion of spying, basing overseas, says Blinken


By Simon Lewis and Humeyra Pamuk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration has taken diplomatic steps that have slowed down a Chinese effort to project military power around the world, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday ahead of a visit to Beijing later this week.

Washington’s top diplomat was asked at a press conference about Washington’s response to a Wall Street Journal report last week that cited U.S. officials saying a new spying effort was underway on Cuba.

Blinken said China’s efforts in Cuba were part of a global effort by Beijing to expand its presence overseas, and that U.S. actions to address this since President Joe Biden came to power in January 2021 have produced results, without specifying what those results were.

“Our experts assess that our diplomatic efforts have slowed down this effort by the PRC,” Blinken said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

China on Monday denied it was using Cuba as a spying base.

Blinken said the administration of former President Donald Trump knew of a 2019 Chinese upgrade of intelligence-collection facilities in Cuba but efforts to address this “weren’t making enough progress”.

Incoming Biden administration officials were briefed on efforts by China to “expand their overseas logistics, basing, collection infrastructure, to allow them to project and sustain military power at a greater distance”, including the upgrade in Cuba, Blinken said.

Biden instructed his team to take a more direct approach that has included engaging governments that are considering hosting Chinese bases and exchanging information with them, Blinken said.

“We’ve been executing on that approach quietly, carefully – but, in our judgment, with results – ever since. I can’t get into every step that we’ve taken, but the strategy begins with diplomacy,” Blinken said.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis and Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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