Maduro seeks China’s help
Trip to target deals, cooperation to boost economy: analysts
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s four-day visit to China is expected to bring new prospects to bilateral relation and promote ties to a higher level, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said Thursday. Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet and hold talks with Maduro, who is also scheduled to attend the closing ceremony of the 16th meeting of the China-Venezuela High-Level Mixed Committee, Lu said at a daily briefing on Thursday.
Maduro’s trip, from Thursday to Sunday, is his first visit since he was reelected to a second term in May with 6 million votes, some 4 million more than his closest rival. This is Maduro’s fourth visit to China, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Maduro’s visit is expected to enhance political trust between China and Venezuela, cultivate more practical and diverse cooperation between the two countries and help Venezuela recover from its ongoing economic crisis, Chinese analysts noted.
As Venezuela shifts priorities from political power struggles to
economic reform, the country has positioned China as a significant partner for cooperation, Sun Yanfeng, a research fellow at the Institute of Latin American Studies of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told Global Times on Thursday.
Maduro has promised a six-point plan to address his country’s economic crisis, as Venezuelans continue to suffer from food shortages, hoarding, price gouging and rampant inflation, Xinhua reported on August 23.
According to economists at the International Monetary Fund, inflation this year in Venezuela could top 1 million percent.
Although Venezuela faces severe economic challenges, the country has never been a “deadbeat” to China and Chinese investment in major projects in the country are earning a good return, Wang Youming, director of the Institute of Developing Countries under the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday.
“The Western countries’ narrative that China is ‘wasting money’ in Venezuela is merely alarmist,” Wang noted.
Official statistics show that trade between China and Venezuela reached $8.92 billion in 2017, a 10.4 percent increase over the previous year.
“The fundamental cause of Venezuela’s domestic crisis is its sluggish economy, and cooperation with China could help the country ramp up production, increase market supply and stabilize its financial sector,” Sun noted.
Compared to other Latin American countries, Venezuela is more experienced and better equipped to cooperate with China, and the country may set an example for implementing the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative in the region, said Sun.
The South American nation’s economy, which is heavily dependent on oil exports, also needs to explore more diverse patterns of economic development as it faces a sharp drop in oil production, said Wang.
China and Venezuela could explore enhancing trade, e-commerce, machine manufacturing and household commodities, according to Wang.
Various deals are expected to be signed between the two nations during Maduro’s trip, as the countries exchange experiences in their respective efforts to improve people’s standard of living and fight corruption, said Sun.
Meanwhile, Venezuela needs to improve the business environment to attract foreign investors, including providing a safer, more open and supportive environment, said Wang.
Venezuela and China established diplomatic relations in 1974, and their relationship developed rapidly after the status of their ties was raised to a strategic partnership for common development in 2001. In 2014, the two nations raised the status of their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
As of February, China-Venezuela cooperation has made more than 10,000 public housing units available to Venezuelan citizens, and jointly developed power projects account for 10 percent of the country’s total output capacity.
More than 3 million low-income Venezuelan families have been provided with household appliances at preferential prices, and over 700,000 families gained access to satellite television services.
In October 2017, China launched Venezuela’s second remote sensing satellite, VRSS-2, the third satellite jointly launched by China and Venezuela. It will be primarily used by Venezuela for land resources inspection, environmental protection, disaster monitoring and management, as well as crop yield estimation and city planning.