Cuba is small and within our sphere of influence. Therefore, it can be abused as much as we like, maligned, embargoed, scapegoated, and even invaded. After we tried to turn it into a puppet state, the local population revolted and threw us out. It continues to remain a symbol of successful resistance to American control. (Critics will point to it's economic failures, which have almost everything to do with the results of our desire to crush it.)
The West tried to the same intervention in China, and the result was the Boxer Rebellion. If China were smaller and closer to the United States, there would be no difference in the way they are treated. Now China has money and a manufacturing sector, so they are "worthy" of being dealt with. So much so that even the hardline nationalists don't dare to insult China and publicly restate their support of a "One China" policy, so when Beijing absorbs Taiwan, America will be able to save some face.
Decades later we are still somehow surprised by the ferocity of indigenous revolt to foreign rule. Though we can turn to romance when it's our ancestors who are doing the revolting. [wikipedia.org]
Twas hard the woeful words to frame
To break the ties that bound us
But harder still to bear the shame
Of foreign chains around us
And so I said, "The mountain glen
I'll seek at morning early
And join the bold United Men
While soft winds shake the barley"