Hubei, China.-To talk about Cuba in Hubei, in southwest China, not only evokes images of paradisiacal beaches and one of the best rums in the world, but increasingly biotechnology and agriculture, which have earned a place among the leading sectors of the island.

Twisting and turning along the middle and lower course of the Yangtze River, this Chinese territory, with a GDP of 502 billion dollars in 2016, and a level of development almost comparable to that of Sweden, in accordance with World Bank standards, has the desire to further strengthen its ties with Latin America and the Caribbean. Havana is one of its big bets.

Hubei is currently pursuing two cooperation projects with Cuba, stated Hu Jian, provincial director for Latin American and Caribbean Affairs. “The first is in the biotechnology area, a sector in which the two countries have advanced very rapidly in recent years,” he acknowledged, adding that the second is a joint collaboration program for the establishment of a demonstration farm on the island.

Both projects are part of agreements signed between the two nations in the framework of Xi Jinping’s visit to the island in 2014, which were confirmed last year during Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s stay in the Cuban capital.

We are currently importing and selling Cuban biotechnology products in the province's local markets, such as PPG, a drug that is well received in the Chinese population especially due to its natural origins, something that we value very much here, Hu explained.

He also noted that plans are to introduce a high-capacity manufacturing line for other highly globally rated Cuban biotechnology products, such as Interferon, for oncological use and to combat viral infections, auxins and vaccines, in the Wuhan East Lake High-tech Development Zone, within five years.

Cooperation in the biotech industry between China and Cuba is divided into three stages. The first is the establishment of agencies for the commercialization of Cuban compounds in the country; in the second stage the Cuban side will provide the technology, while the Chinese side will provide the equipment and facilities to build drug production plants; and the third stage involves the opening of joint development and research institutes to reach a higher level and promote innovation.

The ties between China and Cuba in the sector have been developing for more than 15 years.

This important achievement of the Cuban Revolution is already present in the second world power through the Chinese-Cuban joint ventures Biotech, located in the Special Economic Zone of Beijing, and Changchun Heber Biological Technology, located in Jilin, in the north of the country.

With an extension of 187,400 km2 and an estimated population of 64 million, Hubei is known as the land of rice and fish, and has an important industrial base and very advanced technology for agricultural development.

As Zhang Xiaojun, Council president of the Nong Ken Lian Feng state agricultural group explained, for this reason, the Ministry of Agriculture of China entrusted the group with the mission of helping establish a demonstration farm in Cuba, a project that will include a grain production center and the construction of an area for rice cultivation, as well as the donation of livestock equipment.

The center was inaugurated in 2014, also during the visit of the Chinese president to Cuba, and is based in the Los Naranjos Genetic-Livestock Enterprise, in the province of Artemisa, an entity created on the initiative of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz.

“Our ultimate objective is to help the Cuban side to raise the level of its technology and agricultural production management,” Zhang Xiaojun noted. The Nong Ken Lian Feng group was founded in 2006 with the aim of helping to develop agriculture and providing international cooperation.