Xi's visit takes China-Venezuela ties to a 'strategic' level

Updated: 2014-07-21 11:49

By Wu Jiao in Caracas and Zhang Yunbi in Beijing (China Daily USA)

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Beijing and Caracas Sunday boosted their relations as President Xi Jinping arrived on his first-ever state visit to the South American country.

It is also the first visit by a Chinese president to Venezuela country in 13 years.

The visit will see the two sides on Monday sign new cooperation agreements in energy and mining, finance, infrastructure construction, agriculture, high-tech and other fields that will expand Chinese investment, facilitate local social and economic development and strengthen commercial ties between the two nations.

After arriving at noon on the third leg of his four-nation Latin America tour, Xi's Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro threw a warm welcoming ceremony, featuring honor guards and hundreds of local people dancing in colorful costumes.

The two leaders held extensive talks for hours after Xi's arrival, during which the two sides decided to notch up their bilateral ties into a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Xi pledged to strengthen the strategic plan between the two countries and enhance their economic cooperation.

During a joint press conference with Maduro, Xi also said that as a sincere friend, China supports Venezuela's development path as it suits their domestic situation, and the current leadership is capable of handling its domestic affairs, while preserving stability and achieving economic development.

President Xi said the two sides decided to continue to strengthen investment cooperation, as well as improve the upstream and downstream cooperation in the energy sector and high-tech cooperations include remote-sensing satellite.

China is willing to actively participate in the planning and construction of economic zones in Venezuela, Xi said.

Maduro said there are various kinds of cooperation between China and Venezuela in many fields, and it is well known among Venezuelan people that bilateral cooperation has brought big changes to their lives.

"We have established a framework for cooperation within the entire sectors of Venezuela. It will have a profound impact on the process of our country's industrialization and modernization, and it also has a significant meaning for our further development, especially the expansion in the energy sector," Maduro said. "China's development model is a worthy lesson for our country to learn from."

The 13th meeting of the China-Venezuela High-Level Joint Commission also kicked off Sunday in Caracas hours ahead of Xi's visit. As a top-level meeting guiding bilateral cooperation, the meeting has resulted in more than 200 development agreements so far.

On Monday, the two leaders will attend the closing ceremonies of the meeting.

Venezuela's top diplomat Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said that the meeting should produce better results for economic and social advancement of both Venezuela and China and bring about tangible contributions to the technical training of human resources and the efficiency of project development.

"We have placed particular emphasis on promoting development in energy, agricultural, scientific, technological, industrial, commercial and cultural areas, among others," Xinhua quoted Jaua as saying.

As the two counties celebrate 40 years of diplomatic ties, Venezuela and China have signed more than 500 cooperation agreements over the past few years.

Venezuelan experts said that financing mechanisms between the two countries amount to more than $50 billion.

The financing mechanisms, including the China-Venezuela Fund, have provided financial support for some 256 projects, according to Xinhua.

"These projects cover a wide range of fields that impact the daily lives of Venezuelans," Simon Zerpa, president of the Venezuelan Bank of Social and Economic Development, told Xinhua.

China-Venezuela relations have witnessed faster development since the establishment of the strategic partnership for common development in 2001.

Currently Venezuela is China's fourth-largest trade partner in Latin America, and China is its second-largest trade partner in the world.

Bilateral trade reached $19.24 billion last year. From 2008 to 2012, the averaged annual trade growth was 24.5 percent, outperforming the average China-Latin America annual trade growth rate of 10.8 percent.

Xu Shicheng, a researcher on Latin America at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the two nations have witnessed a high frequency of top-level contacts, and financial cooperation in funding investment is making remarkable progress.

"The bilateral funding programs have become inspirations to more cooperation between China and other developing nations, offering needed funds to Venezuela and providing market access to a range of Chinese enterprises," Xu said.

Zhao Rongxian, Chinese ambassador to Venezuela, said Xi's visit bears "the significance of a milestone" because both countries are currently deepening their respective domestic reforms.

"The bilateral relationship will be promoted to a record high in a strategic level, and will provide powerful driving forces for the two peoples to realize their shared dreams," Zhao said.

The two have made remarkable achievements in fields such as energy, finance, infrastructure construction, agriculture, high technology and people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

Wang Zhen, former Chinese ambassador to Venezuela, dismissed doubts and concerns about whether the relationship will maintain a dynamic momentum.

The two sides have maintained good communication and coordination in international and regional affairs.

"The relationship has been time-tested and it is unlikely to see a U-turn because of leadership reshuffles. Even during the most turbulent period of domestic politics, it was still a widespread consensus among parties on pursuing cooperation with China," Wang said.

Contact the writers at wujiao@chinadaily.com.cn and zhangyunbi@chinadaily.com.cn

 Xi's visit takes China-Venezuela ties to a 'strategic' level

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro wave to people during a ceremony at the National Pantheon in Caracas on Sunday. Xi is on a two-day official visit to Venezuela. Reuters

(China Daily USA 07/21/2014 page1)