Venezuela’s Maduro seeks to bro­ker deals with ‘big sis­ter’ China

China says will­ing to pro­vide Venezuela with what help it can

Tehran Times - - WORLD IN FOCUS -

Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro has hailed China as a “big sis­ter” dur­ing his visit to the East Asian eco­nomic pow­er­house, seek­ing to boost bi­lat­eral ties amid eco­nomic cri­sis at home.

Maduro said af­ter land­ing in Bei­jing on Fri­day that he had come with “great ex­pec­ta­tions” to fur­ther deepen strate­gic ties with his coun­try’s key lender.

The 55-year-old left­ist leader said his visit would give a “big push” to en­ergy in­vest­ments, trade and the “suc­cess­ful fi­nan­cial re­la­tion­ship” be­tween the two coun­tries.

Maduro, who last vis­ited China in March 2017, is sched­uled to meet with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping later in the day.

“China is our big sis­ter. I will be very happy when I meet with our brother Xi Jin­ping on Fri­day,” he noted.

The Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry said the two lead­ers were ex­pected to dis­cuss ties and “is­sues of com­mon con­cern,” as well as over­see­ing the sign­ing of eco­nomic deals.

“Re­cently, the Venezue­lan gov­ern­ment has ac­tively pro­moted eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial re­form with a good so­cial re­sponse,” the min­istry said, adding that “this visit by Pres­i­dent Maduro is ben­e­fi­cial to both sides’ mu­tual trust, to push for­ward co­op­er­a­tion, to ex­pand ties be­tween the two coun­tries and to pro­mote Venezuela’s de­vel­op­ment.”

In a tele­vised ad­dress be­fore leav­ing Venezuela, Maduro said the trip was “very nec­es­sary, very op­por­tune and full of great ex­pec­ta­tions.”

“We are leav­ing un­der bet­ter con­di­tions, hav­ing ac­ti­vated a pro­gram of eco­nomic re­cov­ery, growth and pros­per­ity. We are go­ing to im­prove, broaden and deepen re­la­tions with this great world power,” he said.

Be­fore Maduro’s ar­rival, Venezue­lan Vice Pres­i­dent Delcy Ro­driguez held a meet­ing with Chi­nese of­fi­cials from the China De­vel­op­ment Bank and China Na­tional Petroleum Corp (CNPC), which is a ma­jor in­vestor in oil and gas ex­plo­ration in the Latin Amer­i­can coun­try.

China has loaned some $50 bil­lion to OPEC mem­ber Venezuela in the past decade, with Cara­cas re­pay­ing the debt in sev­eral in­stall­ments with oil ship­ments. Cara­cas still owes $20 bil­lion to Bei­jing.

China has re­port­edly agreed to pay Cara­cas a new $5 bil­lion loan with a six-month ex­ten­sion to the grace pe­riod to ser­vice its debt.

Venezuela, which sits atop the world’s largest oil re­serves, has been strug­gling with a wors­en­ing eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion dur­ing the past years.

About 2.3 mil­lion Venezue­lans have left the coun­try since the eco­nomic cri­sis erupted in 2015 — more than 500,000 only this year — mostly for Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

The In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund (IMF) has an­nounced that in­fla­tion in Venezuela could top one mil­lion per­cent by the end of this year.

Pres­i­dent Maduro has blamed a US-led eco­nomic war for the cri­sis, say­ing Wash­ing­ton is plot­ting to top­ple his so­cial­ist gov­ern­ment.

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