China-Venezuela ties riding on fast track

Updated: 2014-07-20 09:38

By Chen Weihua in Washington (China Daily Latin America)

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China-Venezuela ties riding on fast track
A welcoming poster with Chinese national flag is seen on one of the main streets in Caracas, Venezuela on Saturday. Venezuela will be the third leg of Chinese President Xi's South America trip. Larry Lee / China Daily

Since establishing diplomatic ties 40 years ago, the two nations have been deepening relations through frequent high-level meetings and exchanges, chen weihua reports.

China and Venezuela, which celebrated their 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties last month, have witnessed a fast expanding bilateral relationship in various sectors.

Since establishing diplomatic ties on June 28, 1974, the relationship has been marked with frequent high-level visits, expanding economic and trade cooperation and growing exchanges in science, technology, culture and education.

The two countries have also sought mutual understanding and close cooperation in international affairs, especially after they established a strategic partnership in 2001 under the late president Hugo Chavez.

While this week's visit to Venezuela by Chinese President Xi Jinping will be the latest such exchange, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro visited China last September, just months after taking office, to reinforce bilateral strategic partnerships.

Maduro had visited China multiple times as Venezuela's foreign minister from 2006 to 2013, and Xi had also visited Venezuela in February 2009 when he was vice-president.

Besides President Maduro, Venezuelan National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello and Venezuelan Vice-President Jorge Arreaza both visited China last year.

On the Chinese side, Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Venezuela in April this year to prepare for Xi's trip. This followed visits to Venezuela by a long list of Chinese leaders in the last 20 years, such as former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and former premier Li Peng.

Chavez, who passed away last year, had shown great interest in developing close relations with China. He had visited China six times and signed more than 200 cooperative agreements between the two countries during his time in office.

In Venezuela, Xi is scheduled to hold talks with Maduro. Both will attend the closing ceremony of the 13th meeting of the China-Venezuela High-Level Mixed Committee, where cooperation agreements on energy, mining, finance, infrastructure construction and high-tech will be signed.

The committee, set up in 2001 under a bilateral memorandum of understanding, has been an important mechanism for the two governments to communicate and coordinate with each other on bilateral cooperation.

During Maduro's trip to China last September when he attended the closing ceremony of the 12th meeting of the mixed committee, the two countries signed 27 cooperative agreements on energy, education, agriculture and infrastructure construction.

They included a $1.4 billion deal between China Petrochemical Corp and Venezuela's oil giant Petroleo de Venezuela SA to develop Venezuela's Junin 1 heavy oil bloc, which would produce 200,000 barrels per day. Meanwhile, Venezuela secured a $5 billion line of credit from the China Development Bank for the country's social development.

The Export-Import Bank of China would lend Venezuela's state petrochemicals company Pequiven $390 million for a port construction. Venezuela also secured funding from Chinese banks for a mining survey around the country and agreed with China's CITIC Group to move ahead with gold-mining projects in Venezuela's Las Cristinas deposits.

During that trip, Maduro spoke highly of the work done by the mixed committee and expressed Venezuela's willingness to enhance the bilateral relationship and mutually beneficial cooperation in all areas between the two nations.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua recently described the more than 480 cooperative agreements between the two countries over the last 15 years as "greatly strengthened bilateral trust."

For example, the China-Venezuela Fund created in 2001 has funded the construction and expansion of subway systems in Valencia and Maracaibo, the construction of apartment buildings through Venezuela's Great Housing Mission, and improvements of roads and the expansion of the land transportation system on a national scale.

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