Bloomberg — President Xi Jinping said China and Venezuela agreed to enter into a strategic partnership, a sign the two nations are improving ties after years of estrangement.
Xi earlier met President Nicolás Maduro in Beijing on Wednesday for their first sitdown since 2018. China and Venezuela also agreed to deepen cooperation in various fields, state broadcaster China Central Television reported after the talks.
“We’re organizing an agenda for a new era in the relationship between China and Venezuela,” Maduro said in a live transmission from Beijing after their meeting. “It’s a cooperation based on mutual respect where energy and oil are at the axis.”
The two countries signed a flurry of agreements spanning from mining and space exploration to oil production and agriculture, Maduro said without adding any specifics.
The visit comes amid worsening strain between Washington and Beijing and as President Joe Biden seeks to engage Venezuela — which has the world’s largest crude reserves — in talks to lift sanctions in exchange for allowing fair elections next year.
Relations between Caracas and Beijing soured for several years after major Chinese projects were abandoned and Venezuela had difficulty servicing loans during its economic slump.
Maduro’s government wants to raise more money from Venezuela’s massive oil wealth before his expected bid for a third presidential term. Oil accounts for about 95% of the South American nation’s overseas revenue, but that cash flow has been hit in recent years by mismanagement, corruption and US sanctions.
Trade between China and Venezuela rose 17% in first half of the year, National Development and Reform Commission Chairman Zheng Shanjie said during the transmission. Chinese companies add up to a total of $66 billion in contracts in Venezuela, he said.
A delegation from Venezuela led by Vice President Delcy Rodriguez and Oil Minister Pedro Tellechea arrived in Shanghai last week. The pair are discussing potential joint ventures between China and state-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter. So far, Venezuela hasn’t announced any concrete deals resulting from the trip.
That delegation also met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and former Brazil President Dilma Rousseff, who now leads the New Development Bank, headquartered in Shanghai and launched by BRICS members. They also visited Shanghai’s Oil and Gas Exchange.
Maduro has said he wants China’s support for his country to join the block of emerging-market nations that also includes Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa. He also wants China to step up investment in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Last month at a summit in Johannesburg, the bloc invited top oil exporters Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Argentina, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates to join in a push to expand its global influence.
--With assistance from Fabiola Zerpa, Nicolle Yapur and Patricia Laya.
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