China and Cuba Deepen Ties: Implications for the US
China and Cuba have been forging stronger bilateral relations in recent years, collaborating in areas such as infrastructure, trade, and investments
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
On April 24, 2023, Chinese Premier Li Qiang met with a Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) team led by Roberto Morales Ojeda, highlighting the importance of China-Cuba relations and China's commitment to supporting Cuba's socialist path.
The two countries aim to improve strategic coordination, defend world peace, promote multilateralism, and enhance pragmatic collaboration in fields such as the Belt and Road Initiative.
Morales expressed Cuba's readiness to learn from China's party-building, reform, and poverty-eradication initiatives, with the ultimate objective of promoting the communist cause and Cuba-China ties.
In recent years, bilateral trade between China and Cuba has flourished.
Cuba's main trading partner in the Caribbean region is currently China, while Cuba is China's second-largest trading partner in the region.
In 2021, Cuba bought $574 million in commodities from China, accounting for 16.7% of its total imports from all nations, totaling $3.45 billion.
China was Cuba's second-largest import partner, coming in second only to Spain. This enormous economic partnership demonstrates China's expanding influence in the Cuban economy and the Caribbean area as a whole.
Cuba's exports to China, on the other hand, were valued at $419 million, accounting for 38.6% of the country's overall exports of $1.09 billion. Almost 50% of these exports were related to trading in nickel mattes and zinc ore, which are critical commodities for China's expanding industrial and technological industries.
This export composition emphasizes the importance of natural resources in Cuba and China's commercial relationship, as well as their mutual reliance on the exchange of these critical raw materials.
In 2020, Chinese investment in Cuba totaled $11.4 million, with Chinese investment in Cuba has reaching $140 million in total. Chinese-invested firms have signed 37 new underwriting projects in Cuba in 2020, totaling $314 million in contract value.
The projects span industries such as infrastructure, energy, and biotechnology. China and Cuba have also collaborated on renewable energy projects, with Chinese enterprises playing an essential role in helping Cuba achieve its goal of increasing renewable energy consumption to 24 percent by 2030.
Furthermore, Cuba has mineral resources such as nickel and chrome, which are in high demand in China, resulting in the presence of Chinese mineral and mining enterprises in Cuba.
Over the past two decades, bilateral cooperation between China and Cuba in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals has steadily increased. Both countries have signed memorandums of understanding and are participating in joint research and development projects. Chinese enterprises have contributed to human health and agriculture sectors through joint ventures and partnerships with Cuba's national organization in the biomedical sector.
The strengthened relations between China and Cuba may have various ramifications for the United States.
Firstly, it could represent a potential threat to US power in the Caribbean and South America, as China's expanding footprint in the region may jeopardize the United States' strategic interests and ability to control regional affairs.
Secondly, China's growing alliance with Cuba may hinder US attempts to promote democracy and human rights in Cuba. Given Cuba's reliance on Chinese assistance, it may be less likely to succumb to US pressure to implement democratic reforms or address human rights issues.
Thirdly, the burgeoning economic links between China and Cuba may reduce the impact of the US embargo against Cuba. As Cuba's economic reliance on China grows, the impact of US sanctions may be lessened, and the embargo's initial goal of pushing regime change in Cuba may be weakened further.
Lastly, the strengthening of China-Cuba relations may affect US enterprises operating in the region. As Chinese firms continue to engage in Cuban infrastructure projects, US firms may face more competition and fewer options to participate in the Cuban market.
It is critical that Americans are aware of these changes and their potential ramifications for US policy and interests in the Caribbean and Latin America. Keeping an eye on evolving geopolitical factors will be critical for understanding and managing the complicated web of international interactions as the world continues to evolve.
China and Cuba have been deepening bilateral relations, working together in various fields such as infrastructure, trade, and investment, with both countries sharing a commitment to socialism and the promotion of multilateralism.
The strengthened China-Cuba relations pose potential challenges to the US, including threats to its power and influence in the Caribbean and South America, hindrances to its efforts to promote democracy and human rights in Cuba, and the reduction of the impact of the US embargo against Cuba.
The deepening of China-Cuba relations may impact US businesses operating in the region, as they may face increased competition from Chinese firms engaging in Cuban infrastructure projects and other ventures.
Cuban Imports in 2021 (The Observatory of Economic Complexity)
Cuban Exports in 2021 (The Observatory of Economic Complexity