By Silvio Canto, Jr.
Guess who is hanging around with Raul Castro these days? The answer is China, as we see in this report from Pan Am Post:
Chen Xi, China’s Ambassador to Havana, signed agreements with Cuban Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmiera to expand economic relations between the two countries.China pledged to make a US $1 million donation to help with Hurricane Irma recovery efforts.Additionally, China will provide more than US $12 million in supplies, including generators, water pumps, purifiers, folding beds and other resources.The agreement granted China a credit line for a project to remodel and modernize the island’s electric grid and solar power infrastructure, according to the state-run publication Cuban News Agency.Though China surpassed Venezuela in terms of trade with Cuba last year — with total of US $361 million — the agreement means that China has officially become the island’s largest trading partner.Chinese-made buses, trucks and cars already frequent Cuban roads.
So what is China looking for?
Selling trucks and cars to Cuba? Where are the consumers?
Buses? It may be that Cuba could use some new buses but that’s not a very big sale either.
As Mexico, Canada, European countries, Brazil, and so many others have learned, doing business with Cuba is rather difficult because there is no market to speak of. This is why so much of the foreign investment is about building hotels.
China has to know that doing business with Castro’s Cuba is an automatic trip to “a loan rescheduling” meeting.
Who hasn’t been forced to restructure their loans to Cuba? A few months ago, the Paris Club agreed to waive $8.5 billion of Cuba’s outstanding $11.1 billion debt!
It works like this: Cuba buys on credit and then can’t pay off the loan.
So China must have a different motive. How about national security or military? How about Chinese warships or submarines visiting Cuba in the future? Military outpost for intelligence or Chinese jets?
Maybe President Trump should talk about Cuba when he meets with China soon.