China’s Xi pledges support to Cuba in ‘core interests’

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Cuban counterpart pledged mutual support over the “fundamental interests” of their fellow communist states Friday at a meeting, also hailing a return to face-to-face diplomacy by from Beijing.

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

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

No specific problems or other countries were mentioned in the Chinese government press release.

Diaz-Canel’s visit is yet another sign of how China is trying to boost its in-person diplomacy after a virtual shutdown of such exchanges during the pandemic.

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

Mongolian President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh 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 sanctions-hit nations.

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

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

Cuba “highly recognizes” Xi’s practical and theoretical contributions “and we believe this is a real encouragement for all progressive forces in the world,” he said.

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

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