While US president Donald Trump inexplicably increased sanctions on Cuba with a set of policy measures that included tightening the embargo and further limiting US travel to the country, putting more pressure on an already weakened Cuban economy, China continues to support the island nation’s bold fight against foreign interference.
Last month, a brand new Made-in-China train left Cuba’s capital, Havana, for Santiago, the country’s second largest city — Cuba’s first new train in more than 40 years, Global Times reported.
While the Cuban government hopes to overhaul its rail system in the future with the help of countries like China, in a broader sense, the train echoed the role of connectivity that China is willing to play to benefit the Cuban people, through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
It’s not unusual to see new Chinese cars in Cuba these days, or Chinese appliances for sale in stores, even the Chinese buses are mated with Mercedes-Benz drive-trains.
As the Cuban Ambassador to China, Miguel Ángel Ramírez has been to many Chinese provinces, met different people and had conversations with Chinese media.
Wherever he went and whomever he talked with, one thing that he would always like to reiterate is the importance of the BRI and that Cuba embraces this initiative, the report said.
“Cuba attaches great willingness to take part in the BRI. We embraced it since the beginning and in November last year we signed an MoU (memorandum of understanding) between Cuba and China, so that Cuba can be officially part of this,” the ambassador said.
Likewise, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Wang reiterated China’s stance to the world in regards to China-Cuban ties.
“China and Cuba should work with other countries to safeguard the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and oppose unilateralism and protectionism. China will, as always, support Cuba’s just fight against foreign interference and blockade,” Wang said.
Cuba sees the BRI as a new type of globalization.
Ramírez said that it is not the “neoliberal” globalization led by the US, but the globalization that is based on mutual benefits, the report said.
“China considers Cuba as a brother and partner, and we share that view. So both countries have been working very strongly to oppose unilateralism and long-arm jurisdiction that are sanctioned without being approved by the UN Security Council,” he said.
“We promote multilateralism, democracy and globalization that are based on win-win cooperation.”
Having been in China for almost three years, Ramírez is impressed by its rapid modernization, raising hopes for Cuba in the future.
“There is a good saying … that Mao Zedong made us stand up, Deng Xiaoping made us prosperous, and Xi Jinping made us strong, which, to me, is a good review of what China has achieved in the last 70 years,” the ambassador said, adding that Cuba always learns from China’s past experiences, sees what China has done, and how those experiences can be applied to Cuba.
The UN says that an “unjust” U.S. financial and trade embargo on Cuba had cost the country’s economy US$130 billion over nearly six decades, Reuters reported.
But since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US has lost nearly all international support for the embargo, the report said.
After agreeing to a historic U.S.-Cuban detente in 2014, former U.S. President Barack Obama eased the embargo, which was put into place by President John F. Kennedy in 1962.
President Trump tightened travel and trade restrictions again, over Cuba’s support for Venezuela. Only the U.S. Congress can lift it in full.