Maduro seeks China’s help

Trip to tar­get deals, co­op­er­a­tion to boost econ­omy: an­a­lysts

Global Times - - Front Page - By Li Ruo­han

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.

Di­ver­si­fied co­op­er­a­tion

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.

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