China’s Xi pledges support for Cuba on ‘core interests’

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BEIJING (TBEN) — Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Cuban counterpart pledged mutual support for the “core interests” of their fellow communist states on Friday at a meeting in which Beijing further welcomed the return to face-to-face diplomacy.

Commenting to Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, Xi said China hoped to “enhance coordination and cooperation in international and regional affairs” with Cuba. The two will “go hand in hand on the road of building socialism with its own characteristics,” Xi said in a Chinese government press release.

China generally defines core interests as the defense of its economic and political development goals, along with control over the territory it claims, especially self-governing Taiwan.

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No specific issues or other countries were mentioned in the Chinese government’s press release.

Diaz-Canel’s visit is a further sign of how China is trying to jump-start its personal diplomacy after a virtual halt to such exchanges amid the pandemic.

Xi, who is also the leader of the ruling Communist Party and has abolished term limits to allow him to remain in power indefinitely, met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Beijing earlier this month and then attended the meeting from the Group of 20 Leading Economies in Indonesia and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Thailand.

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Mongolian President Ukhnaagiin Khursukh and European Council President Charles Michel will travel to Beijing next week.

Diaz-Canel arrived in China after a visit to Moscow, where he and Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the “traditional friendship” between their sanctioned countries.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, China and Cuba grew closer, just as China and Russia gradually established warmer ties, largely in opposition to the US-led liberal democratic world order.

The Chinese press release quoted Diaz-Canel as saying his visit “shows that we attach great importance and attention to the friendly and cooperative relationship between Cuba and China.”

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Cuba “is very much indebted to Xi’s practical and theoretical contributions and we believe this is a real encouragement to all progressive forces in the world,” he said.

China is Cuba’s second-largest trading partner after main oil producer Colombia, and has provided buses, locomotives and other equipment for the island’s ride to upgrade its dilapidated infrastructure. Chinese companies have also invested in mineral extraction in Cuba, but on a limited scale.

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