Cuban Leaders Greet New Counterparts in China

HAVANA TIMES — Cuban President Raul Castro and First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel officers sent two separate messages of congratulations to newly elected Chinese leaders, reported dpa news.

“We’re convinced that under your leadership, our sister country will achieve new successes in building socialism,” the Cuban leader wrote to President Xi Jinping, according to an article published in the official Granma newspaper on Thursday.

For his part, Diaz-Canel wrote to newly positioned Prime Minister Li Keqiang saying, “I have been witness to the importance attached to the development of friendly relations and cooperation. We affirm our commitment to continue working to strengthen them further.”

Diaz-Canel, 52, was elected as the new “number two” position on February 24. The first politician born after the 1959 revolution to hold that position, he is being discussed as the possible successor to the Castro now in power.

As expected, Xi Jinping was elected president on Thursday with an overwhelming majority among the 3,000 delegates to the National People’s Congress of China. Xi, 59, was elected successor to Hu Jintao with only one vote against him and three abstentions.

Castro, who was himself recently ratified for another five years in office, also stressed the “importance” that the new Chinese president gives to “fraternal relations” between Cuba and China.

After Venezuela, China is one of the island’s main trading partners, and in recent years it has made several loans to Cuba.

Mired in a chronic economic crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union, in recent years a gradual reform program with market elements has been promoted in Cuba under Raul Castro. The model — which rules out political reforms — is similar to that applied in the past decades by Asian socialist-oriented countries such as China and Vietnam.