China and Cuba on Friday vowed to deepen practical cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) cooperation plan, firmly support each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests, strengthen coordination in international and regional affairs as well as jointly build socialism with local characteristics, during a meeting between Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Chinese president, and Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and Cuban president.
The two leaders witnessed the signing of bilateral documents regarding inter-party exchanges, BRI cooperation and a consultation mechanism between their foreign ministries.
The two sides also issued an 18-point joint statement on deepening China-Cuba relations in the new era. Cuba reiterates its firm position of unconditionally abiding by the one-China principle, stressing that Cuba firmly opposes any attempt to use the Taiwan question to interfere in China’s internal affairs.
China firmly supports the Cuban people in their just struggle to defend national sovereignty and oppose external interference and blockades. China supports ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba, according to the joint statement.
The two sides agreed to deepen high-quality BRI cooperation and strengthen cooperation in areas such as biotechnology, renewable energy, health, economy, trade, finance and cyber security, and China will continue to provide support and assistance to Cuba within its capacity, the statement said.
Chinese observers said Diaz-Canel’s visit came amid recent frequent visits of leaders from socialist countries, showing that these countries are deepening exchanges in theory and practice, and as they are also developing countries, the exchanges also let the world hear stronger voices from developing nations, which is conducive to promoting a world order that is fairer.
They stressed that China-Cuba cooperation and China-Latin America cooperation benefit both sides and do not target any third party.
Xi, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Chinese president, said to Diaz-Canel, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and Cuban president, that Diaz-Canel is the first Latin American and Caribbean head of state received by China since the 20th CPC National Congress held last month, which fully demonstrates the special friendship between the two countries and parties.
“Cuba is the first country in the Western Hemisphere that established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. Our ties have become an example of solidarity and cooperation between socialist countries, as well as an example of sincere mutual assistance between developing countries,” Xi said.
Li Haidong, a professor from the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Friday that the “special friendship” between the two countries and two parties mentioned by Xi was embodied in the long-term friendship of the two socialist countries since the two established diplomatic ties, as Cuba was the first country in Latin America to establish diplomatic relations with China, which laid the foundation for other Latin American countries to establish diplomatic ties with China, and the two sides enjoy a friendship forged by the older generation of leaders, which has become a precious legacy of the two countries that should be cherished and consolidated.
The two parties in China and Cuba have united and led their peoples to withstand various negative influences from the international and domestic environment, overcome risks and challenges through great struggles, and can also support and coordinate with each other to defend fairness and justice in multilateral and international affairs, showing the strong vitality of the Marxist party and the socialist system, Pan Deng, executive director of the Latin American and Caribbean Region Law Center of China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times.
According to Cuban news agency Prensa Latina, Diaz-Canel travelled with several senior officials, including Deputy Prime Ministers Ricardo Cabrisas and Alejandro Gil, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, and Ministers Rodrigo Malmierca (Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment) and Vicente de la O (Energy and Mines).
Cuba’s delegation includes several senior officials from different sectors, which showed that Cuba wants to comprehensively boost ties with China, analysts said.
Han Han, secretary general of the Center for the Cuba Studies Institute of Latin American Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Science, told the Global Times on Friday that China and Cuba have always maintained frequent and consistent bilateral exchanges between the leaders and the two ruling parties, and this is key to promoting China-Cuba ties as well as to ensuring policy coherence and smooth implementation of pragmatic cooperation under the BRI.
Energy prices have continued to rise with increasing global demand, posing a great challenge to Caribbean countries like Cuba that depend greatly on external energy supplies, Han said. She said improving energy supplies, building power plants and more infrastructure are crucial for Cuba to realize its development goals, and in these fields, China and Cuba could strengthen their win-win cooperation.
China is receiving intensive visits recently from socialist countries, including previous visits by general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong and Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith in the coming week.
The current international order is at a crossroads and many socialist countries which are also developing countries are working hand-in-hand with other developing countries to push the international order to a more just and fair direction and to promote the development of a multi-polar world, Chinese observers said.
Vanguard in Latin America
China-Latin America cooperation is based on mutual respect and benefit, which serves the common interests of countries in the region, and China stands ready to work with Cuba and other Latin American and Caribbean countries to advance high-quality BRI cooperation and promote greater development of China-Latin America comprehensive cooperative partnership in the new era, Xi said.
Cuba is a bellwether country in Latin America and the spiritual vanguard of the leftist, Li said, adding that Cuba is a model of independence and self-reliance in Latin America.
To date, about two-thirds of Latin American countries have elected leftist governments, most of which pursue a “Latin America of Latin Americans”, Chinese observers said.
Strengthening ties with countries like China has expanded the space for Latin American countries to make strategic choices and boosted their strategic independence and confidence, observers said.
China-Latin America economic and trade cooperation has overcome the adverse impact of the pandemic, showing strong resilience and development momentum, Shu Jueting, spokesperson from the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), said on Thursday.
Wang Youming, director of the Institute of Developing Countries at the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing, told the Global Times on Friday that China’s cooperation with Latin America is based on mutual respect and benefit that local people welcome, and does not target any third party.