The highest ranking Chinese government official to visit Cuba in more than a year met with acting president Raul Castro on Friday, as part of a trip to strengthen ties between the communist allies, officials said.
Wu Guanzheng, a member of the Standing Committee of China’s Communist Party Politburo, arrived on Thursday for a four-day visit, but it was not clear whether he would also meet with ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who handed temporarily over power to his brother after surgery more than eight months ago.
Cuban officials insist Fidel Castro is well on the way to recovery and is gradually getting involved in leading the country again.
China last year became Cuba’s second biggest trading partner after Venezuela, with two-way trade doubling to almost $1.8 billion, mostly due to China’s exports of machinery, vehicles and consumer goods financed with Chinese credit.
Wu is the most senior official from China to visit Cuba since Lou Gan, another Politburo member, visited in December 2005 and Chinese President Hu Jintao in November 2004.
Wu praised Cuba for being the first country in Latin America to recognize China’s communist government, in 1960. Relations between Beijing and Havana took off after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Wu will visit Colombia and Chile after Cuba.