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Jun 25, 2015 0 Comments

General Fan Visits Havana Articles / Opinion Editorials, Publications

Authors: FERNANDO MENÉNDEZ

After concluding a five day visit to the United States, Gen. Fan Changlong, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, flew directly to Havana, Cuba, the first Chinese official of such high rank to travel to the island since Cuba and the United States began talks to normalize relations. Given Gen Fan’s rank, second only to President Xi Jinping who chairs the commission and serves as commander-in-chief, this is hardly a courtesy visit.

The arrival of Gen. Fan in Havana immediately unleashed widespread speculation about the triangular relationship between China, Cuba and the United States. Some items on his agenda can be discerned given China-Cuba relations in the past.

China and Cuba are longtime economic, military and political allies. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, China increased its footprint in Cuba through trade, loans and investments. In the past two decades Chinese-manufactured buses, refrigerators and electronic equipment, food and other goods are omnipresent throughout Cuba at a time of critical shortages. China has invested in Cuba’s nickel mining facilities, financed offshore oil exploration and built hotels and other tourism facilities on the island. Despite the miniscule nature of Cuba’s domestic market, China has extended loans and other aid to the Cuban government.

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