POSTED: Wednesday, July 4, 2012 - 7:30am
UPDATED: Wednesday, July 4, 2012 - 7:34am
NBC News — Cuban President Raul Castro arrived in Beijing wednesday, kicking off a four-day state visit that is aimed at boosting a bilateral relationship with the world's second largest economy. Castro is scheduled to meet with his Chinese counterpart on thursday, when the two leaders will sign several new cooperation deals.
Castro is expected to travel to Hanoi, Vietnam after his Beijing trip. It will be his first visit to Cuba's two important communist allies since taking over power in 2008 from his ailing brother, former president and revolutionary icon Fidel Castro, who is now 85.