Why China, but not Cuba?

Cuba is a communist country with a less-than-stellar human rights record. Americans wanting to travel there face heavy restrictions, and, of course, any trade with Cuba is illegal.

China is a communist country with a horrible human rights record, yet Americans are free to travel there with no restrictions, and they’re our most favored trade partner.

Is there any logical explanation for this?

The short answer is “It’s just policy.”

It started out of Castro’s coming to power and taking over property that was owned by the US (or at least US companies). All except Guantanamo Bay. (“Go ahead–make my day!”)

Then there was that little incident at Bahia Cochinas where our invasion force basically took a rather sustained spanking. (I’ve heard that part of the reason for the defeat was some backroom skullduggery by Adlai Stevenson–don’t know if it’s true.)

And the noive of dat guy, allowing nukes to be parked only 90 miles from Key West–think of what that was going to do to tourism.

And to top it all off, he aligned himself with the Soviet Union–you know the bad guys.

Another major thorn in our side was the he and we (the US) always seemed to come down on opposite sides as to what dictator we wanted running various Third World countries (like El Salvador and Nicaragua). The guy that he wanted to be dictator was never the guy that we wanted to be dictator.

Well, his main sponsor has fallen apart, and the our dictator/his dictator wars in Central America are pretty much gone, so I join in the chorus of voices calling for an end to the embargo.

It comes down to two things (in my opinion): early in his term, he embarrassed us, and later he engaged in numerous proxy wars against us.

The first item is history, literally and figuratively, the second is also, just not quite so long.

So let’s do it.

I was in Key West just last month, and I would love to have taken a side trip to Havana.

Maybe next time.


The other aspect is that a huge portion of Southern Florida is composed of Cuban refugees who demand that Castro be flayed alive. The Republicans go along with them, partly on principle and partly because they donate large sums of money to the GOP. The Democrats go along with them for fear that the Republicans will use them as some sort of trump in a national election (“See how these poor refugees have been betrayed!”)

I think we ought to dump the embargo. Cuba would dump socialism a lot sooner if they could see their wealthy cousins visiting from Miami.


China is a country of 1 billion people with nuclear weapons.

Cuba is a country of 11 million that makes great cigars.

You do the math.

Actually the issues with Cube-er boil down to this:

  1. Fidel Castro is a colorful character, lets make nice with him so his people can eat, and therefore we can enjoy Cuba’s nice beaches.

  2. Fuck Fidel- the USSR is not around anymore to protect his ASS- let’s invade this what has been an embarrassing thorn in our side for 35 years and make Cuba our 51st state- since we could build a nice 90 mile causeway between Key West and Havanna and enjoy Cuba’s nice beaches. Like what is the worst that will happen- we lose a war to f’n CUBA??? Dont make me laugh.

You decide.

I represent the Folder Fact Fascists, and I’m hijacking this thread to Cuba. Or China.

“Most favored nation” trade status is not a title – it’s a formality. China is not our most favored trade partner, at least not more so than Belgium or Japan or a host of other countries. There are lots of most favored nation trade partners. It simply has to do with import/export tariffs and some other economic stuff which I can’t claim I understand. The USA, being the world’s 800-lb gorilla as far as commerce is concerned, can and does use MFN as a carrot before the cart to influence the policies of nations who want to be on the list. China had to make a lot of concessions to get MFN status, though their sheer size and military might kept us from using as much leverage as we could on, say, Zimbabwe. Other than cigars, prostitutes and some abandoned Mafia property, Cuba doesn’t have anything we want.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation. The Folder Fact Fascists now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.

–Da Cap’n
“Playin’ solitaire 'til dawn
With a deck of fifty-one.”

Tomndebb got that one; the Cuban-American vote is a significant bloc in Florida, and can earn them electoral votes. Chinese-Americans have no such concentrated political clout [yet], although they perhaps are a formidable encouragement to continue MFN and liberalized trade with PRC.

Besides, ever look at the stuff for sale in WalMart ? How much is made in Belgium, Finland, or wherever… vs. ROC ? $$ talks.

O le mea a tamaali’i fa’asala, a o le mea a tufanua fa’alumaina.

Well, you forget that from 1949 to 1971 there wasn’t much in the way of Sino-American exchanges.

There’s another story that Nixon wanted to normalize relations with Cuba around 1973-4, but that was put on the backburner as Watergate started getting headlines.

I suspect that when the embargo was placed on Cuba, no one in the State Department thought Castro would last another 37+ years. Once in place, it is pretty hard to remove it before achieving the original intent (the removal of Castro), without suffering a damaging loss of face. A poor reason, but a politically powerful one, nonetheless.

By the way, to expand on Cap’n Crude’s explanation of “most favored nation status”; it means that any nation so designated will receive the same treatment, as if they were the “most favored nation”. As the good Cap’n said, there are many nations with this status.


“Believe those who seek the truth.
Doubt those who find it.” --Andre Gide

Most Canadians don’t even understand what the big deal is with Cuba. A couple (2-5?) years ago some American politician made headlines in Canada by comparing Canada’s trade with Cuba to Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler.

This was dealt with by the standard Canadian method on Americans and their Cuba embargo: Thought about, laughed about it, forgot about it.

The real difference is the $$$ to be made selling American goods to 1/4 of the world’s population.

Sue from El Paso

Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.

Just to be a nit picker China doesn’t have 1/4 of the total population of the world. There are 6 billion. About 1.25 Billion in China and almost 1 billion in India. USA is 3rd with 275 million, Indonesia is the only other nation with over 200 million. At least for the moment.

You mean apart from the splendid resort possibilities and the cheapo labour?

If the Americans keep up their dumbass embargo much longer, everything worth owning in Cuba will belong to Germans and Canadians before Yanqui can get his hands on it.


The reason we haven’t normalized relations with Cuba is Fidel Castro. The US government seems to have a vendetta against him personally. If Castro had died of natural causes five years ago, and Cuba was exactly the same country it is today only with someone else running it, we’d have “Made in Cuba” stamped on half the stuff we buy.

Headlines of the future:
2005: UN votes down sanctions against Cuba 211-1.
2012: GATT expels US for maintaining sanctions against Cuba.
2014: European Union threatens embargo against US if seized assets not released.
2022: Fundamentalist Nation of Christ party wins election. Platform includes death penalty for abortion, continued sanctions against Cuba.
2029: Castro celebrates 70th year in power.

Surely you aren’t confusing Taiwan (ROC) with China (PROC)? I mean, sure, they both claim to be (the real!) China, but no one asked why we have good relations with Taiwan… But you’re right on the rest of it: money talks, and the Chinese here from both Taiwan AND China largely want ‘us’ to keep trading with the Mainland.

Let’s end the embargo, and kill him with kindness; If you can’t beat’em, assimilate’em. After all, we failed militarily in Vietnam, but now you can buy a Big Mac and a Coke in Saigon ('scuse me, Ho Chi Minh City).

If I understand the OP correctly, the question is: Why does the US get tough with Cuba but not with China?

The answer is: Because we CAN get tough with Cuba.

Note to Canadians: When we care about what you think, we’ll ask you. I disremember exactly when the last time that this happened was. Good luck sucking up to the dictator. Further note: the US only sucks up to the dictators it HAS to suck up to (remember the Cold War?), and when we can get rid of them, we do. (Cf: Marcos, Duvalier, Suharto, most of the Latin American thugs that we pulled the carpet out from under). Canada seems to be kissing Castro’s ass because it WANTS to. Go Canada, enlightened liberal land to the north.

I dunno, Lawrence, since Canada is our biggest trading partner (much bigger than Japan or China or anyone else) and since their view of Cuba seems, basically, more intelligent than ours, maybe we should listen to them on this one.

Ignoring the human rights issues (that are much worse in China than Cuba), it would seem that if we think we can bring freedom to China through trade, we ought to be able to overwhelm Cuba with freedom. Castro may have “betrayed” our trust by aligning with the U.S.S.R. (after publishing books that indicated that he was a Marxist well before we supported his assault on Batista), but we were the ones who staged a sloppy invasion of his country before he ever accepted a missile from Kruschev–and that was over 35 years ago. He hasn’t exported a revolution in years. (I was always amused that after we “saved” Grenada from his big, bad engineers and their “military” airbase, we completed building the same airport to their original specifications.)

It’s time to drop the embargo and behave like civilized people for a while.


I know this is off-topic, but I just have to say:

If an american boy was being held by cuban authorities who refused to return him to his father in Miami, we would be dropping fucking bombs by now. This situation is riduclous, heads in the IMS need to roll.

Urhm, sorry INS.

Uh, Lawrence? Where did you learn your history? In this world, the U.S. government has gone so far as to assassinate (organize, support, or even carry out directly? the assassination) or otherwise remove or try to remove from office democratically elected heads of other states in order to install our picked dictators, or to allow those who would be dictator to fill the vacuum. We have then followed that up by training the secret police of those nations, who supported those dictators, and who then participated in torture and murder of their fellow citizens. (There is debate on whether we trained them in the finer points of 20th century torture, but there can be no question that we didn’t much care with whom we dealt.)

Look up Iran, Chile, Patrice Lumamba (sp?), etc. The more we talk about (pay lip-service to) democratic ideals, the more our government’s - and by extension our - actions look hypocritical. China and Cuba are just a very small part of that tapestry.