Li Changchun (R), a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, shakes hands with Marino Murillo Jorge, vice president of Cuba's Council of Ministers, during a meeting in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 22, 2012. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)
BEIJING, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Senior Chinese official Li Changchun on Wednesday pledged to boost closer ties with Cuba.
Li, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remark while meeting with Marino Murillo Jorge, visiting vice president of Cuba's Council of Ministers.
Cuba was the first Latin American country to set up diplomatic ties with China, Li said the two nations had supported and understood each other over the past 52 years in their socialist construction, and had sealed a profound friendship.
China and Cuba forged diplomatic ties in 1960. China is Cuba's second largest trading partner, while Cuba is China's largest trading partner in the Caribbean region. Bilateral trade volume hit 1.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2010.
In recent years, China-Cuba friendly relations have entered a new period of all-round development, Li said, citing enhanced political trust, mutually-beneficial economic cooperation and vigorous cultural exchanges.
"Under the new situation, it is the common aspirations as well as in fundamental interests of both countries to deepen China-Cuba friendly cooperation," Li said.
The CPC and the Chinese government highly value the ties with Cuba, and will stick to the principle of long-lasting friendship with the country, he said.
"We are ready to maintain high-level exchanges with Cuba, enhance experience sharing in country governance and expand substantial cooperation in various areas, to boost closer bilateral ties," Li added.
Murillo Jorge, who is on a weeklong China tour, conveyed greetings from First Secretary Raul Castro Ruz of the Communist Party of Cuba to Chinese leaders.
He spoke highly of the growth of Cuba-China relations since the forging of diplomatic ties, citing mutual respect, enhanced cooperation and consolidated friendship between peoples.
The ruling party and government of Cuba attach great importance to developing relations with China, and admire China's achievements in its economic and social development, he said.
Cuba hopes to share experience with China in socialist building, and jointly push forward the bilateral friendship, he added.
Murillo Jorge is visiting China at the invitation of Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu. During his stay, he also met with leaders of multiple government departments, including the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Development and Reform Commission.
Li Changchun (R), a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, meets with Marino Murillo Jorge, vice president of Cuba's Council of Ministers, in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 22, 2012. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)