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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Chinese Fear Post-Castro Breakdown

Chinese intelligence is biting its fingernails over the prospect of Fidel Castro’s demise in Cuba.

Hand-picked as the successor to his brother Fidel, Raul Castro is rightly known as the “Chinaman.” Ever since he visited China in 1997 he has been unstinting in his praise for the Beijing government and has played a key role in recent years in turning his island into a China-type bastion.

But according to Intelligence Online sources in Beijing, leaders of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and, even more, the intelligence agencies are worried about what they might lose if the Havana regime collapses.

This would include a major base for intercepting communications at Lourdes which was taken over from Russia’s GRU by the 3rd Bureau (Zongcan Sanbu) answering to the PLA’s general staff and headed by Qiu Rulin; a transmission station operated on conjunction with Cuba’s Direccion General de Inteligencia (DGI) at the Bejucal intelligence base; a listening post at Jeruco some 50 km east of the complex at Lourdes; a Sino-Cuban intelligence liaison and transmission center in Havana; and, lastly, a hub for Humint exchanges between the DGI, which is lead by general Eduardo Delgado Rodriguez, and the 2nd Bureau of China’s state security department (Goanbu) run by Zhan Yongjie.

In addition, the PLA’s naval forces would lose a base on Pinetree Island, where some of their spy ships put in. They would also be denied a naval base at Cienfuegos, which would enable Chinese submarines to pose a direct threat to the U.S. in the case of conflict (over Taiwan, for instance).

The Lider Maximo’s health problems in recent times haven’t prevented major Chinese delegations from visiting Havana. The most significant trip took place in March when eight Chinese generals, including lieutenant-general Peng Xiaofeng, the political commissar of the Second Artillery Force (Di Er Pao Ping) and his chief of staff, lieutenant-general Yu Jixum, were received by the Cuban chief-of-staff, Alvaro Lopez Miera.

At the time the CIA submitted a report to president George W. Bush stating that the Second Artillery Force was in charge of China’s ballistic missiles and wondering whether Beijing would supply Cuba with imported missiles or help it design them on the island. Meanwhile, the Institute of Contemporary International Relations, an organization linked to Guoanbu, recently drew up a scenario on Castro’s death that compared it with the demise of hardliner Enver Hoxha in Albania and his replacement by the reform-minded communist Ramiz Alia.

But it is not clear whether the Chinese also examined what subsequently happened in Albania after Hoxha’s death: the collapse of communism and a takeover of the country by former Sigurimi secret service men (trained by the Chinese) and organized crime.

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