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Cubans highly value close ties with China, Premier Li’s visit

Updated: Sep 26,2016 2:16 PM     Xinhua

Premier Li Keqiang and Cuban President Raul Castro witness the signing of some 20 cooperative agreements in areas including economic technology, finance, production capacity, telecommunication, environment protection, and inspection and quarantine after their talks at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana, Cuba, Sept 24, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]

HAVANA — Cubans from all walks of life are paying close attention to Premier Li Keqiang’s visit and highly value the island country’s relations with China, expecting bilateral relations will be enhanced through high-level exchanges of visits and economic cooperation.

State media have highlighted Li’s visit to Havana with photos and reports. Besides major news outlets on the island, people in the street have a lot to say about the visit.

Silvio Alvarez, a 73-year-old Havana resident, told Xinhua, “relations between Cuba and China are very good, in recent years economic cooperation has increased substantially. The collaboration with China is important to many sectors of the country such as transport, trade and industries.”

In his talks with Cuban leader Raul Castro, Premier Li said China wants to focus on development and cooperation with Cuba, support the island’s industrialization process and cooperate with Cuba in infrastructural construction and industrial equipment production.

These initiatives have been welcomed by the Cubans who have seen Chinese-made equipment as well as buses, home appliances, clothing and Chinese technology increase on the island.

“It’s the first time a Chinese premier visits Cuba and I believe it is a trip of great connotation. Both countries should continue working on areas that positively impact the Cuban economy and we are on a good path to deepen our relations,” said Carmen Mejias, a retired teacher.

On Sept 24, Castro and Premier Li witnessed the signing of a series of cooperative agreements in areas including economic technology, finance, production capacity, telecommunication and environmental protection, among others.

For Cubans it is very important to continue strengthening ties with China, a longtime friend that shares many political and social views with Cuba.

“Cuba’s relations with China have been very stable for many years. Today China is Cuba’s second-largest trading partner and the visit of the Chinese premier will deepen bilateral ties. I think this visit will be very important for Cuba because it will reaffirm economic, political and social links with Beijing,” said Mario Hernandez, a 58-year-old worker.

The impact of bilateral cooperation in the daily lives of Cubans is also felt as thousands of Chinese-made Yutong buses run around the country, induction cookers and many other home appliances are sold at stores and LED lights illuminate the main avenues of Havana and other cities.

“There have been many contributions from China in the last few years and it’s a reliable trading partner. Our lives are better today because we have access to Chinese-made equipment and technology, thanks to the active cooperation between both countries,” said Roberto Souto, a Havana resident.

Miriam Legon, a Cuban state worker, also referred to the increasingly close ties with the Asian nation.

“There isn’t a Cuban who does not experience firsthand the impact of this relationship. In my house we cook food with a Chinese induction cooker and watch TV with better quality thanks to a digital signal decoder built by a Chinese company,” she said.

Young Cubans believe China’s development and good will can help the island overcome a series of economic obstacles, particularly due to the US embargo.

“This visit by the Premier will boost bilateral links. China is one of the top technology makers in the world and Cuba is in need of technological advances in all areas of the economy,” Victor Fernandez, a young Cuban, told Xinhua.

Premier Li arrived in Havana on Sept 24 for a three-day official visit to Cuba, the first such visit by a Chinese premier since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1960.