China-Cuban relationships were established in an unstable world in the 1960s and after many years, today the two sides are standing together as they once were, in the face of the new challenges of unilateralism and protectionism.

During a recent visit by the Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez to China, in Bruno Rodriguez meeting with Chinese State Councillor & Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Wang reiterated China’s stance to the world in regards to China-Cuban ties;

“China & 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 & blockade.”

The development of China, especially in the past 40 years, has uplifted the country to be the second largest economy in the world and provided great opportunities for the development of Latin American countries like Cuba, which holds strong relationships with China.

Ambassador Miguel
Photo: Cuban Ambassador to China, Miguel Ángel Ramírez.

On the Occasion of the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, chinese media spoke with the Cuban Ambassador to China Miguel Ángel Ramírez about the future perspectives of China-Cuban relations.

Embrace Belt & Road Initiative

A New China made train left Cuba’s capital, Havana for Santiago, the country’s second largest city on July 13. It is Cuba’s first new train in more than 40 years. The Cuban government hopes to overhaul its rail system in the future with the help of countries like China.

This is one of many indications of China’s advanced technologies that have been applied for upgrading the transportation to benefit the Cuban people. In a broader sense, this train echoes the role of connectivity that China is willing to play not just within its own country, but between the two countries for common prosperity.

China & Cuba have identified several areas to enhance bilateral ties within the framework of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) cooperation. The BRI has drawn growing interest from the Cuban government.

As the Cuban Ambassador to China, Ramírez has been to many Chinese provinces, met different people and had conversations with Chinese media. Wherever he went & 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.

“Cuba attaches great willingness to take part in the BRI. We embraced it since the beginning and in November last year we signed a MoU (memorandum of understanding) between Cuba and China, so that Cuba can be officially part of this,” the Ambassador said.

“Furthermore, in the recent BRI forum in April, we had a high-level delegation led by Gladys Maria Bejerano, the Vice President of the Council of State of Cuba.”

Cuba sees the BRI as a new type of globalisation. Ramírez said that it is not the “neoliberal” globalisation led by the US, but the globalisation that is based on mutual benefits. “Many Caribbean countries have problems with ‘connectivity,’ an area in which Cuba is willing to play a role,” he noted.

Stand Up for Multilateralism

Both China and Cuba stand up for multilateralism and they believe what unilateralism doesn’t benefit any country. China and Cuba have been working together for many years and both are socialist countries, and therefore have a united common view of the world.

As a strong supporter of the BRI, Ramírez feels strongly about the importance for both sides to promote multilateralism together in today’s world.

In June, the Trump administration decided to increase sanctions on Cuba with a set of policy measures that include tightening the failed embargo and further limiting travel to the country, putting pressure on the already weakened Cuban economy. The Ambassador believes that like the trade war that the US started with China, the sanctions on Cuba is one of the actions that showcased the Trump administration’s break of multilateralism.

“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 globalisation that are based on win-win cooperation.” The ambassador noted that Cuba supports China in its position on the trade war and welcomes Chinese technology companies like Huawei.

Learn from China

Having been in China for almost three years, Ramírez is impressed by the modernisation of today’s China. He contributed to China’s development over the last 40 years, since the launch of the reform and opening-up policy. He was excited about the fact that more than 700 million people were lifted out of poverty in the past decades, and agrees that China is an important leader in global development.

“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 verifies from China’s past experiences, sees what China has done, and how those experiences can be applied to Cuba.

Next year will mark the 60th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between China and Cuba, which will mark a time to share memorable stories on both sides. Ramírez is also a witness of these longstanding relationship.

“As Cuba is a tiny island in front of the US, in September 1960, we decided to establish ties with the new China, the ‘red’ China that the Americans used to call it in the 1960s,” he said.  “That was a time when Cuba just had its revolution in 1959 and when Taiwan was still a member of the UN Security Council.

So, it was really a brave decision and it was particularly relevant because it was done in a public rally in front of one million people and the Cuban people applauded the decisions of the Cuban Government to establish diplomatic ties with the New China. These are the things that we are celebrating.”