Exclusive: Cuban PM calls on a direct flight between Beijing and Havana
Published: Nov 07, 2023 07:57 PM
Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz Photo:Chen Qingqing/GT

Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz Photo:Chen Qingqing/GT

The frequent high-level interaction between China and Cuba in the post-pandemic period has not only enhanced the long-standing political collaboration between the two countries, but also pushed forward their economic cooperation, Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz said at a business forum on Tuesday in Beijing. Marrero called to establish direct flights between Beijing and Havana as soon as possible to facilitate trade and business. 

Marrero said that during his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday in Beijing, the two sides had agreed to push forward bilateral cooperation deals in a comprehensive way, and now the two countries have experienced a huge revolution in economic cooperation. 

The two leaders reaffirmed the special and long-standing friendship between the two countries, vowing to oppose hegemony and uphold international justice. Prior to his meeting with the Chinese leader, Marrero attended the ongoing China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai. 

Due to the impact of the pandemic, the decades-long US embargo and geopolitical uncertainties such as the Ukraine crisis and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, Cuba's situation is complex, and it has facing many difficulties. Marrero said that the primary task for the Cuban government is to set economic and development goals, and the tourism sector will be a major source of growth. 

Marrero highlighted the importance of autonomy in food production, as Cuba is working with Chinese enterprises and departments to grow rice. "Another focus is to encourage foreign investment, and we have learned many experiences during our visit to Shanghai this time about how China encourages investment," he said. 

During his meetings with Xi and Chinese Premier Li Qiang, Marerro also suggested establishing a direct flight between Beijing and Havana to facilitate people's exchanges. "I hope that we could launch the direct flight tomorrow. But unfortunately we don't have a clear schedule yet," Marrero told the Global Times during the forum. But he believes it could start next year. 

The frequent economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, in addition to growing business opportunities, have created huge demand for the direct flight, Marrero said. 

Cuba has participated, for six consecutive years, in the CIIE, which is considered to be a platform to further consolidate the close economic ties and unbreakable friendship between the two countries and enhance the bilateral economic ties, Marrero told the Global Times. 

The CIIE was not only attended by many Cuban ministers, but also by Cuban enterprises in various fields, he noted. The two countries have taken advantage of the CIIE to sign a number of cooperation agreements, including in biotechnology and other fields. In addition, Cuba is seeking to promote local products such as cigars and rum to Chinese consumers. 

Cuba has been making huge efforts to transform its electricity and energy systems, in which Chinese and Cuban companies have been working on new energy such as wind and solar projects.  

During the forum, Marrero said that another important aspect of the economic and trade cooperation between China and Cuba is telecommunication technology. For example, Chinese telecommunication technology is helping Cuba to digitalize its TV. Cuba is also working closely with Chinese telecom giant Huawei. 

The decades-long embargo against Cuba imposed by the US has caused severe suffering for Cuban people, and at the recent UN General Assembly where countries voted overwhelmingly against the US embargo, China once again expressed its opposition to unilateral compulsory measures against other countries through military, political, economic or other means.

"On behalf of the Cuban people, I expressed my appreciation for China's long-standing unconditional support for Cuba," Marrero said, commenting on his meeting with Xi. 

The US has always insisted that the embargo does not affect the economic and social development of Cuba and that Cuba's economic problems are not caused by the blockade, but by Cuban government departments, Marrero noted. "But our response is that if the US lifts the embargo, Cuba can really see what we can do and what economic achievements we can achieve without the blockade."

"I can guarantee, and I can confidently say that, without a blockade, Cuba would be a country that has achieved a lot in economic development," he said. "Our Cuban people will also live a freer, more dignified life and take more pride in Cuba's national identity."