- Title: CUBA: CHINESE PRESIDENT HU JIANTAO ENDS VISIT TO CUBA
- Date: 23rd November 2004
- Summary: CLOSE OF CASTRO HOLDING CANE VARIOUS OF FIDEL STANDING NEXT TO HIS BROTHER RAUL CASTRO AND OTHER GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
- Embargoed: 8th December 2004 12:00
- Location: HAVANA, CUBA
- Country: Cuba
- Topics: General,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA210A9AX2BGQ7HRKSGWWEGNXJ6
- Story Text: Chinese President Hu Jintao wraps up his visit to Cuba promising to expand economic support and political ties to Fidel Castro.
China and Cuba sealed a growing partnership on Tuesday (November 23) with a $500 million Chinese investment in the Cuban nickel industry and recognition that their roads to socialism differ.
China's President Hu Jintao wound up a two-day state visit to Havana bending over to receive Cuba's highest decoration from wheelchair-bound Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
"Socialism will definitely remain the only hope for the country and the survival of the species," said Castro, who shattered his left knee in a fall in October.
Castro, 78, stood up with the help of a crutch for the anthems of the two communist-run nations.
Castro praised China as the best hope for Third World countries as it becomes "the main motor of the world economy."
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba has turned to China for trade, credit and investment, and China is now its third trading partner after Venezuela and Spain. But as China speeds ahead after opening up to capitalist initiative, its model of market socialism has not been followed by Cuba, where limited liberalization in the 1990s of its highly centralized economy are being reversed.
While Castro abhors capitalism, Cuban officials say Cuba is too close to the United States to toy with market openings, under the pressure of U.S. sanctions aimed at undermining its system.
The Chinese leader, who was accompanied by 200 Chinese businessmen, said strong political ties between the two countries ruling Communist parties would ensure growing trade with Cuba. China is particularly interested in Cuban nickel reserves, the third largest in the world.
"We are convinced of the importance of our roles due the current international situation and of the difficulties we both are facing. If we combine our forces we can strengthen even more our friendly and cooperative relations between Cub a and China," said Hu Jintao.
Since 2000, half of China's nickel, used to make stainless steel, has come from Cuba. China's state-owned Minmetals President Miao Gengshu said $500 million would be invested in a joint-venture to produce 68,000 tonnes a year of ferro-nickel in eastern Cuba.
Cuba's Industry Minister Yadira Garcia told Reuters the plant would come on stream in 28 months. She said Cuba suspended talks with British investors interested in the same project.
China also began negotiations to jointly explore nickel deposits that Australia's BHP Billiton had been looking at but took too long to raise financing, Garcia said.
Hu Jintao and Castro presided over the signing of 16 accords on Monday night that ranged from the sale of one million Chinese television sets to the rolling over free of interest of loans granted to Cuba between 1990 and 1994.
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