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Castro in China for first state visit


Trip focusing on economic issues

November 29, 1995
Web posted at: 10:00 a.m. EST (1500 GMT)

Mintier From Correspondent Tom Mintier

BEIJING, China (CNN) -- Cuban president Fidel Castro arrived in the Chinese capital on Wednesday for a 10-day state visit, his first to that country.

A long-time Soviet ally, Castro didn't establish diplomatic ties with China until 1993, but since the break-up of the former Soviet Union, China has become one of Cuba's top three trading partners. Castro has praised Chinese leaders for moving toward a free market economy while keeping the Communist Party's monopoly on power.

Castro As Castro's Cubana jet taxied into the VIP area at Beijing airport on Wednesday, a handful of diplomats were at the airport to greet him. The U.S. ambassador was not among them.

A state welcome in Tiananmen Square with Chinese leader Jiang Zemin is scheduled for Thursday morning. It was Jiang who invited Castro to make the visit during Jiang's trip to Havana two years ago. The welcome will be followed by a visit to Mao Tse-tung's mausoleum and then talks with Jiang and other Chinese leaders.

Castro While Castro's visit to China will have ideological implications, economics will be center stage. Mexico's ambassador to China, Luis Alfaro, called the Castro visit an important one for both countries. "It's a very important possibility of Cuba coming up with the level of commercial relationship they expect to have with China," Alfaro said. "I think it's also important for China to have this visit in the same framework."

After two days of meetings with Chinese government officials, Castro will head out of Beijing to see the economic changes in China, with a special interest in looking at the successes and weaknesses of reform.

In a CNN interview, Cuba's ambassador to China, Jose Guerra, said Castro came to study the Chinese economic model.

"Don't look for big economic agreements," Guerra said. "This is just a continuation of a dialogue that has been going on for two years. That's why we have been able to prepare it so fast without any problems."

Castro's two-week visit also will include a stop in Vietnam, another country that has adjusted its economy to become more market-oriented while at the same time not yielding any of the political power of the state.

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