Li's visit to Western Hemisphere historic
Premier to demonstrate China's increased diplomatic clout at UN, speak with executives in New York, start a new chapter in relations with Canada, and make a first of its kind visit to Cuba
The whirlwind of activities will take place in an 11-day journey that starts on Sunday.
The premier is expected to expound on Beijing's viewpoints regarding the international order, development and global governance at the annual general debate of the UN session, kick off a meeting between Chinese and Canadian premiers that is set to become a regular event, and most likely meet with legendary Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro, according to diplomats and analysts.
While attending the 71st session of the UN General Assembly between Sunday and Wednesday, Li is expected to tell the world how China has delivered on the promises President Xi Jinping made at last year's session, Yang Xiyu, a researcher at the China Institute of International Studies, said on Friday.
At the UN Sustainable Development Summit last September, Xi said China would establish an assistance fund for South-South cooperation, with an initial pledge of $2 billion to support developing countries. Xi also announced China's decision to establish a 10-year, $1 billion China-UN peace and development fund to support the UN's work at last year's UN session.
During the annual UN session this year, China will release a country report on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — the first country to release such a report. It follows the action plan formulated at the recent G20 meeting in Hangzhou for implementing the agenda, which is a blueprint for ending poverty and hunger, promoting equality and protecting environment for the years leading up to 2030, according to Yang.
"The presence of Chinese president and premier at the consecutive UN sessions indicate China attaches great importance to the UN and supports the organization in playing its role," Yang said.
During his stay in New York, the premier is expected to attend the general debate, and chair a symposium on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and China's ways of doing that.
He is expected to announce "pragmatic moves" in support of the work of the UN and in addressing global challenges such as terrorism, refugee crises and infectious diseases, Vice-Foreign Minister Li Baodong said this week.
Also on the agenda is a meeting to be hosted by the Economic Club of New York, a nonprofit membership organization with members drawn from the top executive levels of business, industry and finance.
"This public diplomacy arrangement indicates the premier wants to have close contact and direct conversations with people in business, finance and industry circles," Yang said.
The premier will then fly to Canada for a flurry of activities, including meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa, and attending an economic and trade forum in Montreal, according to sources with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In their meeting in Beijing around half a month ago, the two premiers announced the two countries would launch an annual dialogue between both heads of government to boost bilateral relations and exchanges of views on international affairs.
"Li's visit will mark the official start of the dialogue mechanism, which indicates the two countries are well on the way to a more mature and stable relationship," Yang said.
While Li's visit to Canada was the first by a Chinese premier in 13 years, he would be the first Chinese premier ever to visit Cuba since Beijing and Havana established formal relations in 1960.
Liu Xiuqin, Chinese ambassador to the Caribbean country between 2010 and 2012, said Chinese presidents have all visited Cuba since 1993, each at least once, but none of its premiers has visited the island nation.
Premier Li's historic visit would result in enhanced political relations, and ramped-up cooperation in trade, she said.
Asked if Fidel Castro would meet Li, Liu said she believed that the former Cuban leader would surely meet the Chinese premier as long as his health permits.
Xu Shicheng, a senior researcher of Latin American studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, also predicted the meeting would happen.
Xu said that building on the traditional relations of the two countries, Premier Li's visit would lend a strong boost to bilateral trade.
The two-way trade between the two countries has remained about $2 billion in recent years, which Xu said doesn't match the momentum of their good relations.