China’s President Xi Jinping has held a meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro, during which the two leaders agreed to upgrade their countries’ relations.
Chinese state media said the two leaders on Wednesday signed several bilateral cooperation documents focused on areas including the economy, trade and tourism after the talks in Beijing.
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Xi said China would elevate its ties with Venezuela to an “all-weather strategic partnership”, a label reserved for a select few of its diplomatic partners. He also pointed out that the two countries are partners with shared development, highlighting that both are “good friends with mutual trust”.
Venezuela said it actively supports China’s Belt and Road Initiative to boost global trade infrastructure, Chinese state media said, referring to an upcoming conference in China next month. China says it has signed Belt and Road cooperation agreements with more than 150 countries and more than 30 international organisations.
Maduro said Venezuela is also willing to closely communicate and cooperate with China within multilateral frameworks such as the BRICS mechanism and the United Nations.
Venezuela is actively courting membership of BRICS, a group of major emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which recently favoured expansion and welcomed new members.
Maduro has cultivated ties with China throughout his years in power, securing support for his country in the form of loans, cash and investment worth tens of billions of dollars.
Last week, Maduro posted on social media that his “historic” visit was aimed at “strengthening cooperation and the construction of a new world order”.
China is Venezuela’s main creditor, loaning about $50bn to the OPEC member in the 2010s. Venezuela is repaying the debt with shipments of oil, of which it has some of the largest reserves in the world.
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning has hailed ties with Venezuela as “rock solid”, calling the two countries “comprehensive strategic partners”.
About seven million people have left Venezuela during a complex political and humanitarian crisis that has been continuing for the past decade. The country is reliant on oil as its main export but has faced sanctions from the United States.