Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening ceremony of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China Oct. 16, 2022. — REUTERS

BEIJING – China’s President Xi Jinping has pledged to support Cuba’s defense of its national sovereignty, opposing foreign interference and a US economic blockade, and will expand strategic coordination with Havana.

Mr. Xi made the remarks in a meeting with Cuba President Miguel Diaz-Canel on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg on Wednesday, according to a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry on Thursday.

“China highly appreciates Cuba’s consistent firm support for China on issues involving China’s core interests, and will continue to firmly support Cuba in defending its national sovereignty, opposing foreign interference and blockade, and doing its best to provide support for Cuba’s economic and social development,” Mr. Xi said at the meeting, according to the release.

During talks Mr. Diaz-Canel labeled Cuban-Chinese relations at an “all-time high”.

“The Cuban people greatly admire President Xi Jinping and sincerely thank China for its understanding and valuable support for Cuba’s just cause,” Mr. Diaz-Canel said at the meeting, which was also attended by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The meeting between the two leaders comes months after a media report surfaced that China had reached a secret deal with Cuba to establish an electronic eavesdropping facility on the island. But the US and Cuban governments cast strong doubt on the report.

China quickly denounced the US government and media for releasing what it called inconsistent information, calling the allegations false. — Reuters