By Li Hongmei, Sepcial to Sina English
Chinese President Hu Jintao and top legislator Wu Bangguo met with visiting Cuban leader Raul Castro in Beijing on Thursday. Raul Castro Ruz, president of Cuba's Council of State and Council of Ministers, arrived in Beijing on Wednesday for a state visit to China at the invitation of President Hu Jintao.
During Raul Castro's four-day tour, he is expected to hold talks with President Hu and meet with other Chinese leaders, including top legislator Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice President Xi Jinping, and Vice Premier Li Keqiang.
Thursday’ talks between President Hu Jintao and Cuba's Raúl Castro ended with the signing of eight accords, including one on a loan to finance improvements to health infrastructure on the Caribbean island.
"For us it is a matter of great pride to maintain relations with all the institutions of the People's Republic of China and with its people," said Castro, whose Asia tour - which also includes a visit to Vietnam - seeks to garner support for his economic reform process from other communist countries who began such a process years ago.
President Hu said at the beginning of his meeting with Castro that since Raúl worked as president in 2008 "the traditional friendship between China and Cuba has developed greatly."
"We're certain that this visit will increase cooperation on the highest levels," said President Hu, who recalled that he had visited Cuba on three occasions.
Hu also expressed his support for Cuba’s stride in economic reforms and efforts to seek after a development path of its own.
In addition, Cuban Vice President Ricardo Cabrisas and Chinese Trade Minister Chen Deming signed two economic and technical cooperation agreements that include donations and interest-free loans.
This is Raúl Castro's first visit to China as Cuba's head of state, although he traveled to Beijing in 1997 and 2005 respectively to examine the "Chinese experiment" on economic reforms. Now, it seems that he and Cuba are ready for a new economic skyline. Thus his visit is aiming to obtain China’s support for the changes he is attempting to carry out in Cuba.
Castro has initiated an economic opening that recalls the first years of the Chinese reform, including the reduction of bloated state payrolls and fewer restrictions on private initiative.
China and Cuba on Thursday pledged to further enhance their traditional friendship and cooperation in all areas.
The pledge came out of a talks between Chinese President Hu Jintao and visiting President of Cuba's Council of State and the Council of Ministers Raul Castro Ruz at the Great Hall of the People.
Raul Castro Ruz, president of Cuba's Council of State and the Council of Ministers, arrived in Beijing Wednesday for a state visit to China at the invitation of President Hu Jintao.
Cuban leader Raul Castro left here on Sunday for official visits to China and Vietnam, the official Granma daily said Monday morning.