China Xi pledges support to Cuba for its “core interests”.

BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Cuban counterpart pledged mutual support for their communist states’ “core interests” on Friday in a meeting that further welcomed Beijing’s return to personal diplomacy.

Speaking to Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, Xi said China hopes to “strengthen coordination and cooperation in international and regional affairs” with Cuba. The two will “walk hand in hand on the road to building socialism, each with their own characteristics,” Xi quoted the Chinese government’s press release.

China generally defines core interests as the protection of its economic and political development goals, as well as control over territory it claims, particularly self-governing Taiwan.

The Chinese government’s press release did not mention specific issues or other countries.

Diaz-Canel’s visit is another sign that China is trying to kick-start its in-person diplomacy after a virtual halt to such exchanges during the pandemic.

Xi, who is also head of the ruling Communist Party and has abolished term limits to allow him to remain in power indefinitely, met German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Beijing earlier this month before attending a meeting of the Group of 20 leading economies. Indonesia and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Thailand.

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Mongolian President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh and European Council President Charles Michel will travel to Beijing next week.

Diaz-Canel arrived in China after visiting Moscow, where he and Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the “traditional friendship” between their sanctions-hit nations.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, China and Cuba grew closer as China and Russia gradually developed warmer relations, largely in defiance of the liberal democratic world order led by the United States.

The Chinese press release quoted Diaz-Canel as saying that his visit “proves that we attach great importance and attention to the friendly and cooperative relationship between Cuba and China.”

Cuba “highly recognizes” Xi’s practical and theoretical contributions, “and we believe this is a real encouragement to all the world’s progressive powers,” he said.

China is Cuba’s second largest trading partner after key oil producer Colombia and has supplied buses, locomotives and other equipment to improve the island’s deteriorating infrastructure. Chinese companies have also invested in mineral extraction in Cuba, but to a limited extent.

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