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WORLD | 14-09-2023 13:46

Xi Jinping announces strengthening of ties between China and Venezuela after Maduro meeting

Xi Jinping announced Wednesday an "upgrading of China-Venezuela relations" to the highest level after a meeting with his counterpart Nicolás Maduro.

President Xi Jinping announced Wednesday an "upgrading of China-Venezuela relations" in a meeting with his counterpart Nicolás Maduro, state media reported. 

Maduro arrived in Beijing on Tuesday after a tour of Shanghai and other Chinese cities.

The Venezuelan leader, who touched down in the southern tech hub Shenzhen on Friday, is expected to stay in China until Thursday for his first state visit to the country since 2018.

Xi announced Wednesday the "upgrading of China-Venezuela relations to an all-weather strategic partnership," according to footage of the meeting published by state broadcaster CCTV.

This is the highest level of Chinese diplomatic relations. Only a handful of countries – Pakistan, Russia, Belarus – have attained this.

Maduro, 60,  is seeking support for Venezuela’s entry into BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South America), a group of emerging economies that held its most recent summit this August in Johannesburg, where they announced the entry of six new countries, including Argentina. 

"We could classify the expanded BRICS group as a great engine for accelerating the process of the birth of a new world, a world of cooperation, where the Global South has the primary voice," said Maduro in an interview with the Chinese state agency Xinhua published on Saturday.

Beijing is Venezuela's main creditor and has close ties with the diplomatically isolated, inflation-ravaged socialist nation.

China "will, as always, firmly support the efforts of Venezuela to safeguard national sovereignty, national dignity and social stability, and firmly support Venezuela's just cause of opposing foreign interference," Xi told Maduro, while also saying he would work to deepen cooperation between the two countries.

The pair will also hold a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, CCTV added.

Beijing loaned about US$50 billion to OPEC member Venezuela in the 2010s, with Caracas repaying the debt with shipments of oil, of which it has some of the largest reserves in the world. It owed US$20 billion to Beijing in 2018.

China has also provided extensive technological assistance to Venezuela as it expands control over its population, according to the Washington-based think tank Atlantic Council.

Chese Foreign Mnistry spokesperson Mao Ning has hailed ties with Venezuela as "rock solid," calling the two countries "comprehensive strategic partners."

 

– AFP

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