China and Cuba – two communist countries – have fairly cozy relations. In April 2010, a Cuban government official was quoted by The People's Daily as saying that, "Bilateral ties with China are so important that every sector in the Cuban economy now has a Chinese presence." The two have also established joint ventures in public health and other sectors. A 2009 McClatchy article says China is Cuba's second-largest investor, after Venezuela, and it expects Cuba's support on contentious political issues such as Taiwan and Tibet.
Cuba is not far from the bottom of the Freedom House rankings, although the organization has cited some improvements in Cuba, such as more mild forms of repression (harassment and short-term detention instead of long jail sentences). The country still has a one-party political system that controls just about every aspect of life in the country.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has followed Cuba's lead. "Viva China!" he said, adding "And its sovereignty, its independence and its greatness." Trade between China and Venezuela has grown rapidly in the past 10 years. In 2009, China was Venezuela's second-largest trade partner, according to Venezuelanalysis.com.