Obama’s visit to Cuba is seen as a ‘win-win’
US President Barack Obama will end decades of hostility and mistrust by visiting Havana in March, in a swan song gesture during the final year of his presidency. Observers said the move will also free Beijing to develop closer ties with Havana without hindrance from Washington.
“Next month, I’ll travel to Cuba to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people,” Obama wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
Shi Yinhong, a professor of US studies at Renmin University, said that the thawing of ties has created a win-win situation.
After being the target of US-backed sanctions for more than 50 years, Cuba will see its internal environment and economic and social development greatly improve, and the US is regaining respect from the Latin American community, Shi said.
Tao Wenzhao, an American studies researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Washington realized that its embargo policies were not working and that attempts to isolate the island distanced it from Latin America.
They are correcting their approach, Tao said, and as an “old friend” and “brother” of Cuba, China should benefit from improved US-Cuba ties, since it means Beijing will have more to offer a Cuba that is no longer subject to Washington’s trade embargo.
Zuo Xiying, an international studies specialist at the National Academy of Development and Strategy at Renmin University of China, said the thaw means the US will be able to devote more energy to Asia-Pacific affairs once it has soothed relations in its “backyard’’ in Latin America.
Together with his wife, Michelle, Obama will visit Havana on March 21 and 22, during which time he will meet with Cuban President Raul Castro and “Cubans from different walks of life”.