Cuban President Raul Castro concluded Saturday his four-day visit to China after signing a number of significant accords, particularly on financial cooperation, and having met with the current leaders and their successors, the Xinhua state-run news agency reported.

Castro, whose next destination is Vietnam, wrapped up his first visit to China as Cuba's head of state with the signing of eight bilateral agreements on financial and technical aid for Cuba.

For some observers, the trip served to build bridges of cooperation between Havana and Beijing, the island's second largest trade partner after Venezuela, in order to find ways for the Asian nation to become a stronger alternative to Cuba's economic dependence on the Venezuelan regime of Hugo Chavez.

The Cuban president kicked off his agenda Thursday at a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao and the country's chief legislator, Wu Bangguo.

Besides meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao, Castro also had occasion to speak with Vice Premier Li Keqiang and Vice President Xi Jinping.

Xi, who in October will be named secretary general of the Communist Party of China and in March 2013 will take power as the nation's president, replacing Hu Jintao in both positions, met with Castro on Friday at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, where a banquet was given in honor of the Cuban leader.

The next stop for Castro, 81, is Vietnam, another country with economic reforms similar to China's, where Cuba will seek further support and inspiration.

Vietnam is currently the chief exporter of rice to Cuba, where it is a mainstay of the inhabitants' diet. EFE