Chinese strongman Xi Jinping called for forging a "permanent friendship" with the fellow Communist government in Cuba, Chinese state media reported.
Xi sent a congratulatory message to Cuban leader Raúl Castro, brother of first Cuban Communist dictator Fidel Castro, Monday. According to China's People Daily Online, he "stands ready to help make the two countries good friends, good comrades, and good brothers forever."
Xi noted that Cuba was the first Latin American country to develop official ties with Mao's China. He hoped that exchanging technology and financial tools during the coronavirus pandemic would lead to a "new chapter" in the two countries' longstanding friendship.
In recent years, that friendship has expanded into explicit and reciprocal exchanges. In 2018, China's Belt and Road initiative came to Cuba, making it a vanguard country in the western hemisphere and a "regional node" in Beijing's complex trade network.
That closer economic relationship has also brought greater political solidarity between the countries. In May, Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez condemned American "interference" in China's internal affairs—namely, the Uighur genocide and the Hong Kong national security law.
"We welcome China’s decision to consolidate development, recover from COVID-19, and strengthen institutions, legality, and national security in its entire territory," Rodriguez said.
Beijing, in turn, criticized American action in Cuba a month later.
"China will always stand by the Cuban people in their righteous struggle to safeguard national sovereignty and legitimate interests and oppose foreign interference, [Chinese foreign minister] Wang [Yi] said," reads a state media report. "China will continue to provide assistance within its capacity to support Cuba's economic and social development."
Cuba last aligned itself with a major communist nation in the 1960s, when its friendship with the Soviet Union prompted the Cuban Missile Crisis.
While the Trump administration has put strict sanctions on both countries, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has repeatedly assured voters that he will return to Obama-era engagement with Cuba.