Beijing and Havana signed a memorandum of understanding this week to secure stronger relations between airports and cement China as “a solid and reliable friend to Cuba.”
The two countries introduced the first direct flight between the capitals on Dec. 27, a week after the United States announced reintroducing direct flights from major U.S. cities. Havana is the second city after Sao Paulo in Latin America to offer direct flights to Beijing and this year will run three flights a week.
Besides increasing access through more commercial flights, the airport and political officials agreed to ramp up security and business cooperation, echoing China’s announcement this summer of its interest in the Cuban agriculture industry and Cuba’s interest in China’s technology and defense industry.
The Chinese ambassador to Cuba said that he hopes the Beijing airport will be the busiest in the world, which saw a 22 percent rise in traffic this year.
Cuba also had a record year of tourism and a 27.5 percent rise in Chinese visitors.
Cargo shipments reached a million tons, only a 1.4 percent increase, but the two hope that stronger commercial ties will raise the number higher this year.In September, Cuba and China celebrated 55 years of diplomatic and cultural relations. Cuba was the first Latin American country to establish relations with Mao Zedong’s communist China.