Chinese President Hu Jintao, on a state visit to Cuba apparently to have a close look at the partially reforming new administration under Raul Castro, has said his visit seeks to deepen relations with the Caribbean island country.
Hu, during his meeting with his Cuban counterpart Castro, said relations between the two countries have seen new progress in recent years, noting that Havana was the first in Latin America to establish diplomatic ties with Beijing in 1960.
Hu presented a four-point proposal to further bilateral ties, including high-level exchanges and political ties.
The Chinese proposal also called for strengthening trade relations for mutual benefits and to coordinate their respective position within multilateral frameworks to secure the interests of developing nations.
Castro termed Hu's trip a sign of the close friendship between Cuba and China.
Although both countries are run by Communist parties, they have pursued different economic models. China has adopted market economics while Cuba still has a command system with most of the economy under state control.
When Hu last visited Cuba in 2004, Fidel Castro was still in charge of the country. His younger brother Raul Castro officially took over the presidency in February 2008 and has introduced some reforms.
While Cuba is said to be taking China as a potential model to follow, China sees the Latin American country as a new field of investment for its fast evolving consumer economy to grow, analysts say.
Cuba could very well be the stepping stone for Beijing to tread the rest of Latin America.
The Chinese president will travel from Cuba to Peru where he will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Lima Nov 21-22.