China says allegations of spying in Cuba are false

Flags of USA and China are displayed at American International Chamber of Commerce's booth during China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing in China on 28 May, 2019Reuters file photo

China said on Monday that allegations that it was using Cuba as a spying base are false and it denounced the US government and media for releasing what it called inconsistent information.

A Biden administration official said on Saturday China had been spying from Cuba for some time and it had upgraded its intelligence collection facilities there in 2019. Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that a new spying effort was underway on the island, citing US officials.

"On the alleged spy activities of China in Cuba, this is a piece of false information," a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, told a regular press conference.

"Over the past two days, we have seen the US government and media releasing a great deal of inconsistent information on the so-called allegation ... This is a display of the 'self-contradictory USA'," Wang said.

The allegation about Cuba comes as US secretary of state Antony Blinken prepares to visit China this week. The top US diplomat scrapped a planned trip to Beijing in February after a suspected Chinese spy balloon flew over the United States.

Wang also said he had no information on Blinken's visit, which would be the first to China by a US secretary of state in five years.

Cuba's Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio dismissed the Journal report, calling it a US fabrication meant to justify a decades-old US economic embargo against the island nation. He said Cuba rejects all foreign military presence in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The spokesperson for the White House National Security Council on Thursday said the Journal report was not accurate but added that Washington had "real concerns" about China's relationship with Cuba and had been closely monitoring it.

Wang said the US "has no chance of driving a wedge between China and Cuba".

"We are sincere friends," he said.