A US official said Saturday that China has been running a spy facility in Cuba for years and made improvements to it in 2019.

“This is well documented in the intelligence record,” the official said, speaking of the presence of Chinese intelligence on the island.

US media have reported in recent days that Beijing intends to establish a spy base in Cuba off the coast of the southeastern United States.

The official, who requested anonymity, added that when President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, “we were briefed on a number of sensitive endeavors of the People’s Republic of China around the world to expand overseas logistics, bases, and intelligence infrastructure globally.”

“These efforts included the presence of facilities for the People’s Republic of China in Cuba to collect intelligence… The People’s Republic of China modernized the intelligence-gathering facilities in Cuba in 2019,” he said.

These statements come in light of the keenness of Chinese leader Xi Jinping to accelerate the expansion of the security presence around the world.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to travel to China at the end of next week, after canceling a visit to him in February following the flight of a Chinese balloon over the United States.

A base in Cuba, located 150 kilometers off the southern tip of Florida, would represent the most direct challenge yet to the continental United States.

On Friday, China warned the United States not to “interfere in Cuba’s internal affairs” in response to media reports about the alleged base.

In response to a question about the base at a regular press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said he had “no knowledge” of the issue, before criticizing US policy towards Cuba.

“As we all know, spreading rumors and slander is a common and patented tactic of the United States to deliberately interfere in other countries’ internal affairs,” Wang added.

The US official said Saturday that the administration believes diplomatic efforts have “slowed the People’s Republic of China” in developing its activities in Cuba.

“We believe that the People’s Republic of China isn’t at the level it had hoped to reach,” he added.

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