RAUL CASTRO WELCOMES HU JINTAO ON HIS LAST VISIT TO CUBA (photo from www.people.com.cn website)

HAVANA TIMES, Nov. 16.- Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected in Cuba on Monday to begin an important two-day visit after attending the G-20 Summit on the global financial crisis in Washington.

China is Cuba’s second leading trade partner after Venezuela and the ties have helped the Caribbean Island in its prolonged recovery from the depressed 1990s.

Hu visited Cuba in 2004 when numerous cooperation agreements were signed. Besides a greater flow of Chinese appliances, like refrigerators, rice and pressure cookers and TVs seen in Cuban homes, the increased trade has led to a resurrection of the Cuban ground transportation system.

HU JINTAO AND FIDEL CASTRO, NOV. 22, 2004 (photo from www.people.com.cn website)

New Chinese Yutong buses are now a part of the Havana urban landscape and on intercity routes throughout the country. Under the accords, the Cuban railway system will also see major improvement both for freight and passenger service.

Well aware that Cuba has been hard hit by three powerful hurricanes in less than three months, China may restructure debts and provide future credits to help the island recover.

“Cuba is indispensable for China in its bid to strengthen links with Latin American and the Caribbean countries,” the Chinese ambassador to Cuba, Zhao Rongxian Zhao, said of Hu’s visit in an interview with China’s Xinhua news agency.

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