China's President Xi meets Cuban PM Marrero in Beijing
China's President Xi meets Cuban PM Marrero in Beijing
China's President Xi meets Cuban PM Marrero in Beijing
by DZRH News07 November 2023
FILE PHOTO: Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) to mark the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, October 18, 2023. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) -China's President Xi Jinping met Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero at Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Monday, Chinese state media reported, a day after the Cuban leader signed cooperation documents with Xi's deputy at a trade fair.

Marrero's visit comes as Cuba's economy, which is heavily dependent on food, fuel and other imports, is close to collapse amid a more than 50% decline in its export earnings, which are needed to purchase imports. The Cuban government blames U.S. sanctions and COVID for the economic downturn.

"China will continue to firmly support the Cuban people, oppose foreign interference and the embargo, and safeguard (Cuba's) national sovereignty and dignity," Xi said, according to state media.

Marrero was among foreign dignitaries attending the opening ceremony of the International Import Expo (CIIE) on Sunday in Shanghai, a week-long trade fair where countries and companies often strike deals resulting in the world's second-largest economy buying more of their wares.


Following a meeting between Marrero and China's Premier Li Qiang on the sidelines of the CIIE, Chinese and Cuban officials signed several unspecified cooperation documents, according to a state media report.

"It is hoped that Cuba will continue to make good use of the important platform of the CIIE to bring more of its products to the China market," Xi told Marrero on Monday.

Cuban officials often laud relations with China as "outstanding" or "historic", and President Miguel Diaz-Canel told China's Xi on the sidelines of a BRICS Summit in Johannesburg in August that ties were at an "all-time high".

But analysts doubt China can take its relationship with the diplomatically isolated island much further or do anything significant to support it, not least because Cuba lacks the means to pay back any loans China might be willing to extend.


Still, supporting Cuba could reap significant strategic and diplomatic dividends for China.

In June, a report claimed China had reached a deal with Cuba to establish an electronic eavesdropping facility on the island, about 100 miles from the U.S. state of Florida. China denied the report as being false.

(Reporting by Joe Cash; Editing by Robert Birsel and Bernadette Baum)

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