Faced with US sanctions on Cuba China steps up its aid – socialist internationalism in practice

Medical supplies from China being unloaded in Cuba

By Tom Castle

It was announced on 30 August that Cuba’s president Miguel Diaz-Canel and China’s President Xi Jinping had held a telephone discussion regarding relations between the two countries. The Cuban President reported this call as follows: ‘I had a cordial telephone conversation with Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and President of China, Xi Jinping. We examined the excellent state of political ties and addressed the importance of deepening economic, commercial, financial and cooperative relations.’

The official Chinese report was the following: ‘Chinese President Xi Jinping said China is willing to walk together with Cuba in building socialism and be good partners in pursuing common development in a phone conversation with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel. Xi also said China is willing to join hands with Cuba in being good exemplars of anti-COVID-19 fight and good comrades in strategic coordination.’

The background to this is that China is now stepping up its aid to Cuba – recently sending its third round of equipment to help combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus. This is an act of solidarity with a sister country also developing on a socialist path.

Cuba has a highly developed healthcare system, which is far more advanced than countries with a comparable level of economic development. Yet because of the murderous US sanctions designed to throttle the economy and bring about regime change, it has faced recent difficulties in coping with the spread of the pandemic.

Cuba has produced highly effective vaccines of its own, the only Latin American country to do so. Yet among many other damaging effects of the US blockade this means Cuba is unable to access the necessary amount of syringes, as well as some PPE items, ventilators, oxygen and so on. The Chinese donations, as well as help from other countries, are aimed at preventing a huge public health and political crisis.

Chinese officials are rightly proud of this important collaboration between China and Cuba, including the China’s new Ambassador to China, as shown in the tweet below.

Background of deepening ties

The background to these developments is that both the Chinese and the Cuban leaderships have previously made a conscious decision to develop and deepen their governmental and party relations. On the 60th anniversary of diplomatic links between the new Cuban revolutionary government and the Communist-led Chinese state, Xi Jinping said that, “he highly values the unique friendship between Cuba and China and stands ready to help make the two countries good friends, good comrades and good brothers forever”. In reply Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said that, “The close friendship between the two countries has withstood the test of time and both sides have always appreciated each other’s achievements in socialist construction as their own”.

The increasing aggression of US imperialism, with its blockade of Cuba and its new cold war against China have made those ties increasingly significant and even indispensable.

Strategic significance of the alliance

Until the Venezuelan revolution Cuba stood alone in Latin America as the sole country engaged in the construction of socialism. Small recent protests in Cuba, brought on by the horrific sanctions imposed by US imperialism and its cowardly allies, were therefore watched closely by all those who regard it as a beacon, especially in the Latin America continent.

China’s relation to Cuba is therefore crucial for the prospects for socialism over a prolonged period, in Latin America and beyond. It will save lives and is designed to aid socialism in the Americas.

This is an example of socialist internationalism, made possible by the leadership of the CPC and the powerful economic development of the Chinese economy.

It also makes all adherents of the “neither Washington nor Beijing” position look more than a little ridiculous. In this concrete case, not allying with Beijing would mean rampant spread of the virus, and an attempt at regime change that could result in a Cuba enslaved once more under the heel of imperialism. The people of Cuba would envy Haiti’s fate.

But more generally, how can promoters of “neither Washington nor Beijing” explain that US imperialism is throttling Cuba, but China is donating vital equipment? Have they missed the fact that the imperialist powers across the world are denying access to vaccines and other equipment, to keep prices up and profits soaring? But China has its own (very large) pharma companies, yet is donating equipment to Cuba and many others, and supplying it cheaply to many more.

Even more strikingly, China has pledged to provide 2 billion doses to the rest of the world by the end of this year. Although COVAX has received a $100 million donation from China, this main channel for donations from the imperialist countries combined amounts to just 224 million at the time of writing.

Imperialism is the mechanism of through which monopoly (or oligopoly) capital seeks to carve up the whole world in pursuit of profits. Donating vast amounts of equipment or supplying it close to cost price contravenes Imperialism 1.01.

This is of course because China is not imperialist, and is seeking to construct socialism. Thankfully, the Cuban Communists and the people of Cuba can see this, even if ‘third campists’ cannot.

The following article, from China’s stated owned Global Times, indicates the current state of Cuba-China relations

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Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday that China is willing to walk together with Cuba in building socialism and be good partners in pursuing common development, in a phone conversation with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

Xi also said China is willing to join hands with Cuba in being good exemplars of anti-COVID-19 fight and good comrades in strategic coordination. Diaz-Canel expressed to Xi best regards from Raul Castro, former Cuban president and former chief of the Communist Party of Cuba. Xi returned his greetings to Raul Castro.

Xi pointed out that under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba, Cubans have safeguarded their revolution fruits. The socialist cause has never been a smooth journey and Communists always seek survival and development and obtain victory through struggles, Xi said.

China has always believed that every country has the right to choose its own path, and opposes unilateral sanctions or external interference. China supports Cuba to continue on the path suitable for its situation and its struggles to safeguard national sovereignty and security, Xi said, noting China will continue providing the aid Cuba needs to combat the epidemic and improve people’s livelihood.

China-Cuba relations have stood the test of time and have become a model of friendship and cooperation between developing countries. No matter how the situation changes, China’s principle of developing friendship with Cuba and deepening cooperation in various fields will not change, Xi said. China is willing to walk together with Cuba in building socialism and be good partners in pursuing common development, he said.

Xi also noted China is willing to keep close high-level communications, enhance exchanges on governance of the party and the country, deepen cooperation on epidemic control and push bilateral ties further.

Xi said that the two should enhance coordination on international issues and jointly safeguard the interests of developing countries. China is willing to speak and do things of justice for Cuba internationally.

Latin America observers reached by the Global Times said that China and Cuba have similarities in ideology, system and revolutionary history, and have developed ties fighting US-led Western hegemony and ideological containment.

Pan Deng, the executive director of the Latin America and Caribbean Region Law Center of China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times that China and Cuba are close comrades on the socialist path and fighters against Western hegemony. Latin America is in the US’ geopolitical reach, but Cuba has been a model of independence and autonomy.

Pan, who is also secretary general of the Latin American branch of the Western Returned Students’ Association, noted Cuba can also be a bridge in China-Latin America relations.

Diaz-Canel said Cuba is willing to play a positive role in promoting China’s relations with Latin American countries.

Diaz-Canel appreciated the long-term Chinese support, including medical supplies and vaccines in the battle against COVID-19, which mirrors a brotherhood between the two countries.

Cuba steps firmly on the socialist path and hopes to have inter-party communications and practical cooperation with China, he said.

Cuba will deepen coordination with China, jointly oppose hegemony and power politics, and oppose politicization and stigmatization of the pandemic. Cuba firmly upholds the one-China principle and will continue to support China’s stance on the topics of core interests such as the Taiwan question and Xinjiang-related affairs, Diaz-Canel said.

Pan noted Cuba had a serious shortage of food and medical materials this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and US embargo. But the livelihood problems were used by some external forces in the US to cultivate a color revolution.

With declining influence in the Eastern Hemisphere, the US has stepped up efforts to seize the Western Hemisphere, hence enhancing the pace of the “peaceful revolution” of Cuba.

A friend in need is a friend indeed, that’s why China provides medical supplies and vaccines, as well as humanitarian aid to Cuba, observers said.

Pan said though Cuba has strong research and development capabilities, its own vaccines faced challenges in manufacturing amid US sanctions and the pandemic.

Cuba started to administer China’s Sinopharm vaccines along with its home-grown doses on Sunday to accelerate the inoculation pace, Havana Times reported.