HAVANA._ Despite the vast distance between them, Cuba has, over the course of the last 50 years, fostered relations with Asia and continues to deepen these links to the same extent that it does with other regions.
The island and the Asian continent are bound by historical ties and friendship, but their close links are also explained by a shared vision expressed in Cuban foreign policy on the Far East.
This year, Cuba is celebrating the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with China, Vietnam, The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Cambodia, India, and Indonesia.
To mark this anniversary, high ranking officials from some of these and other Asian countries have recently visited the Caribbean island.
The visit during the month of June by Chinese deputy prime minister Wang Yang, who had talks with president Raúl Castro and other leading government figures, is of particular note.
On this occasion, Havana and Beijing signed an economic and technical cooperation accord, which includes a donation by the Chinese to finance bilateral cooperation projects.
The visit by Wang Yang follows last year’s visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping, during which 29 accords related to a variety of sectors including bio-technology, finance, agriculture, infrastructure, and renewable energy, were signed.
China is currently Cuba’s main trading partner in Asia and second globally, with trade worth around 1.8 billion dollars.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s Foreign Minister, Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam, was also in Havana last month, when he met with his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez, and Minister for Planning and the Economy, Marino Murillo.
Shanmugam, who is also Singapore’s Minister for Justice, said that “nothing compares to seeing and experiencing a country’s reality.”
The two governments signed a reciprocal visa exemption agreement as an expression of their bilateral interest in facilitating ease of transit for their citizens and the promotion of bilateral collaboration.
Economic and commercial links, primarily bio-technology related, exist between Cuba and Singapore and they also cooperate on the administration of the port linked to the Mariel Special Development Zone.
Located 45km west of Havana, the purpose of the zone that covers 465.4 square kilometers is to attract foreign investment, technological innovation, and industrial concentration, in order to stimulate Cuba´s sustainable development.
Japan is also among the Asian nations interested in expanding relations with Cuba in light of new economic prospects, according to Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, the highest ranking official from his nation to visit Cuba.
Minister Kishida was accompanied by a mission of businessmen from 20 companies representing financial, motor vehicle, trade, health, and tourism sectors.
Kishida, who was received by both the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, and president Raúl Castro, said that he would like the friendly relations between the two nations to reach a new level, based on points such as support for efforts regarding the modernization of the Cuban economic model.
Having been to the United States prior to his arrival in Cuba, the Japanese Foreign Minister praised the process underway between Havana and Washington for the reestablishment of diplomatic ties and the normalization of links.
Cuba is also engaged in negotiations with the European Union with a view to signing a cooperation and dialogue agreement but without putting aside its historical relations with Asian countries as can be verified by a frequent exchange of visits involving senior government officials and other leaders.
Over the past few days the Deputy Prime and Foreign Minister of Laos, Thoungloun Sisoulith, and Korean Worker´s Party Political bureau member Kan Sok Su were among the number of other foreign officials who paid visits to Havana.
Meanwhile, a Cuban delegation, led by Council of State vice president Salvador Valdes visited Vietnam, Laos, and China.
In the context of the historical links between Cuba and Asia, it would be impossible not to mention the support the small Caribbean island has given to Asian nations.
Thousands of doctors and health care professionals have bestowed aid and solidarity on Asian countries, among the most palpable of which is the altruism of the brigades sent to assist earthquake victims in Nepal and Pakistan, while hundreds of students from that continent have received training here as doctors or other health related specialists.Share on FB Share on TT