A day after a report surfaced over China hosting a spy base in Cuba, one technology and policy expert warned that Americans could soon become more vulnerable to espionage.
“It sends a message, just like the spy balloon in a sense that the continental United States is not safe from Chinese interference,” The Heritage Foundation’s Tech Policy Center Director Kara Frederick told Fox News Digital Friday.
“This is on par for their plans to, frankly, be a pure competitor to the United States,” Frederick continued, “which, we called them near peers for so long, and now I think they’re on the move and they’re clearly looking to become a pure competitor when it comes to our global presence.”
U.S. officials close to the matter claimed China and Cuba have reached a secret agreement to establish an electronic “eavesdropping station” on the island, allowing Chinese intelligence services to “scoop up electronic communications throughout the southeastern U.S., where many military bases are located, and monitor U.S. ship traffic,” the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. As part of the “agreement in principle,” China would pay “cash-strapped Cuba” billions to build the facility, it went on to say.
When reached by Fox News Digital, the Department of Defense pointed to White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby’s comments to reporters Thursday that the planned China-Cuba spy base was “not accurate.”
However, Frederick said if true, it’s “emblematic of a new Cold War” and explained China’s goal of attaining a “fulsome intelligence picture of the United States.”
“Our foreign adversaries are gathering allies and proxies to visit their agenda, very clearly aimed at challenging the dominance of the United States in the world order,” she stressed.
“China will suck up all the data that it can – and this isn’t just when it comes to TikTok, digital profiles, location, social dossiers of Americans and their children – but the more sort of card data like they’ve gotten from IP theft, corporate espionage or forced tech transfer, and then the sensitive military information that they’re probing now,” she added.
According to the Heritage Foundation director, “any sort of device with a signal” may potentially be compromised by Chinese actors.
“From these eavesdropping sites, they would be looking to maximize all of those [detection] capabilities. And that would certainly be directed at some of our more sensitive sites in Florida,” Frederick detailed. “And I think, as early reports indicate, that this wouldn’t just be targeted at Florida, but it would be targeted at the lower half of the United States.”
Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., who sits on the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the U.S. and the Chinese Community Party, told Fox News Digital on Thursday that as the only member of Congress born in Cuba, though his office does not have information corroborating the WSJ report about an alleged Chinese listening station, he is not surprised.
“The Russians have had a lot of cases like this in Cuba for a long, long time. And frankly, surprised me that it took so long for the Chinese to get there,” Gimenez said. “The gloves are off. The hood is off, too. So right now, you know, is with all the provocative actions around the world, this does not surprise me.”
Frederick expressed her belief that the Biden administration has been “asleep at the wheel” when it comes to addressing the China threat and reestablishing deterrence.
“They absolutely need to focus on imposing costs on the Chinese regime and reestablishing the deterrence that was lost every year since Biden has taken office,” the tech and policy expert said.
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace, Jennifer Griffin and Patrick Ward contributed to this report.