China, Cuba sign host of cooperation deals

0 CommentsPrint E-mail, June 7, 2011
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China and Cuba signed a dozen cooperation agreements on Sunday to strengthen the economic and political ties between two countries and provide strong financial support to the Latin American country as it embarks on economic reforms.

Chinese vice-president Xi Jinping (L) meets with Cuba's leader Raul Castro in Havana, Cuba, June 5, 2011. [Xinhua]

The two countries signed 13 agreements, including a memorandum of understanding for bilateral economic relations over the next five years.

Raul Castro, president of Cuba's Council of State and the Council of Ministers and visiting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping presided over the signing.

Xi arrived in Cuba Saturday evening after concluding an official to Italy.

China will provide interest-free loans, economic aid and equipment to repair irrigation projects, according to the agreements.

Under the agreements, two sides will also cooperate in digital television and telecommunications, banking supervision, financing for public health projects, an oil refinery expansion project and a liquefied natural gas project, China Daily reported.

Experts said the agreements would inject more momentum into Cuba's economic reforms and enhance ties between China, Cuba and other Latin American countries.

Sun Hongbo, a researcher at the Institute of Latin American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said it is a good opportunity for China to increase its investment in other Latin American nations, as some, such as Brazil and Uruguay, are in great need of capital to develop transportation infrastructure.

During his visit, Xi said Cuba is the first Latin American country to set up diplomatic ties with China. "China-Cuba relations have stood the test of the vast changes in the international situation," he said, adding that their relations serve as an excellent example of China's cooperation with other developing countries in the world, Xinhua reported.

"Under these new circumstances, the maintenance and expansion of our bilateral relations is the common aspirations of our two sides, serves our long-term interests and is also conducive to world peace and development," he said.

He said "the Chinese government supports competent Chinese enterprises in seeking new opportunities for cooperation and investment in Cuba."

Castro said Xi's visit would give a strong impetus to the development of bilateral ties and Cuba is willing to enhance exchanges with China and share its experience in governance and party building, China Daily reported.

Xi is the first Chinese leader to visit Cuba since the country's leadership approved a package of over 300 reforms in April aimed at making its economy more efficient.

Xi visited a local clinic in Havana on Monday and listened to government and clinic officials who introduced to him Cuba's healthcare system. He was also expected to inspect an oil-drilling project conducted by China National Petroleum Corp.

He will also pay official visits to Uruguay and Chile after Cuba.

Cuba is China's biggest trade partner in the Caribbean region, while China is Cuba's second-largest trade partner after Venezuela. Over the past decade, bilateral trade increased from $440 million in 2001 to $1.83 billion in 2010.

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