Pre­mier vows to help Cuba in­dus­tri­al­ize

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAOHUANXIN in Ha­vana and HUY­ONGQI in Bei­jing

On the same day that Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang made his­tory in Ha­vana, China and Cuba agreed to work to­gether to boost the is­land na­tion’s economic de­vel­op­ment. Li, who on Satur­day be­came the first Chi­nese pre­mier to visit Cuba in more than 50 years, vowed to help in­dus­tri­al­ize Cuba.

The con­sen­sus was reached in talks be­tween Li and Cuban Pres­i­dent Raul Cas­tro in Cuba’s cap­i­tal.

The agree­ment could have a large im­pact on Cuba, where the econ­omy last year grew at 4 per­cent year-onyear, ac­cord­ing to China’s Com­merce Min­istry.

The pre­mier, who heads home on Mon­day, also over­sawthe sign­ing of more than 20 agree­ments in Ha­vana to ramp up co­op­er­a­tion in widerang­ing ar­eas in­clud­ing fi­nance and in­fra­struc­ture.

Li ar­rived in Ha­vana Satur­day af­ter­noon af­ter at­tend­ing the 71st ses­sion of the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly in New York and mak­ing an of­fi­cial visit to Canada. The pre­mier is sched­uled to visit for­mer Cuban top leader Fidel Cas­tro — who cel­e­brated his 90th birth­day in Au­gust— on Mon­day. Fidel Cas­tro is Raul Cas­tro’s older brother.

Both China and Cuba are en­gaged in the press­ing tasks of de­vel­op­ing their economies and im­prov­ing the liveli­hood of their peo­ple, Li said. The Chi­nese side is ready to sup­port Cuba’s in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion, he said.

The two coun­tries will work to­gether on the plan­ning of in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion projects, and launch co­op­er­a­tion in in­dus­trial equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ing.

Trade, fi­nanc­ing and in­vest­ment ac­tiv­i­ties will be in­ten­si­fied be­tween the two coun­tries, the lead­ers agreed.

China is Cuba’s sec­ond-largest trade part­ner. Bi­lat­eral trade was val­ued at $2.2 bil­lion last year, a surge of 58.7 per­cent from the 2014 level, ac­cord­ing to Chi­nese cus­toms of­fi­cials.

Raul Cas­tro said Cuba would bor­row from China’s ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise in de­vel­op­ment, and en­hance prag­matic co­op­er­a­tion with China, said a state­ment which

$2.2 bil­lion bi­lat­eral trade be­tween China and Cuba, an in­crease of 58.7 per­cent from 2014.

was re­leased af­ter their talks.

The two coun­tries also will have more ex­changes and col­lab­o­ra­tion in the world arena, join­ing hands to main­tain the com­mon in­ter­ests of de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, the state­ment said.

Be­fore their meet­ing, Li at­tended a wreath-lay­ing cer- emony at the Mon­u­ment to Jose Marti, a na­tional hero for Cuba and an im­por­tant fig­ure in Latin Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture dur­ing the 1850s to 1890s.

Af­ter their talks, Li and Raul Cas­tro wit­nessed the sign­ing of a score of in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal agree­ments and busi­ness con­tracts cov­er­ing a wide range of fields such as econ­omy, tech­nol­ogy, fi­nance, in­dus­trial ca­pac­ity co­op­er­a­tion, in­for­ma­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and in­spec­tion and quar­an­tine.

Cuba main­tains good po­lit­i­cal re­la­tions with China, said Xu Shicheng, a re­searcher in Latin Amer­i­can stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sci­ences.

China could also in­crease in­vest­ment in Cuba to help the coun­try in in­fra­struc­ture, food and the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try, in­ter­net con­nec­tions and train­ing of of­fi­cials, Xu said, adding that both coun­tries should ex­pand mil­i­tary and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion.

HUANG JINGWEN / XIN­HUA

Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang and Cuban Pres­i­dent Raul Cas­tro wave dur­ing their meet­ing at Ha­vana’s Rev­o­lu­tion Palace, in Cuba, on Satur­day.

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