Beijing and Moscow have remained firm in supporting President Nicolas Maduro, though the EU and US have recognised Guaido as the de facto Head of State.‘China’s support will be very important in boosting our Country’s economy and future development,’ the National Assembly leader said.
Venezuela’s self-declared interim President Juan Guaido says he wants a “productive and mutually beneficial” relationship with China and is ready to engage Chinese Officials in dialogues “as soon as possible”.
In an interview to newspaper on Friday, Guaido sought to extend an olive branch to China, which has refused to join the US, European Union and most Latin American nations in recognising his self-proclaimed interim Presidency to succeed Nicolas Maduro.
Guaido said China would continue to play a role in Venezuela’s economic development, adding that Beijing’s deals with Maduro’s government would remain in force so long as they are entered into in adherence to “due process”.
“China is a crucial global player, and we want to establish a productive and mutually beneficial relationship,” he said in an email interview.
“China’s support will be very important in boosting our country’s economy and future development,” added Guaido, 35, the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly.
China, along with Russia, has remained firm in supporting Maduro, even as international recognition of him as the legitimate Venezuelan ruler has fallen apart over the past week.
Following a move by US President Donald Trump, the European Parliament on Thursday recognised Guaido as de facto head of state, heightening international pressure on the OPEC member’s socialist president, Maduro.
EU governments, divided over whether to recognise Guaido, also agreed to lead an international crisis group with South American nations to seek new elections, setting a 90-day time limit, and threatening further economic sanctions.
“Maduro is increasingly isolated and is largely acting alone,” Guaido said. “China has witnessed at first hand the plundering of our state resources by Maduro’s government. Its development projects in Venezuela have been equally affected and falling due to governmental corruption and debt default.”
On whether he plans to allow Venezuela to be part of China’s “Belt and Road” initiative, Guaido said he would improve the relationship with Beijing to stimulate the Venezuelan economy, which has been plagued by hyperinflation and a collapse of investors’ confidence.
“In Latin America and the Caribbean, China continues to promote trade within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative,” he said.
“This initiative gives China a natural space to foster development across the region.”
“There is a lot of work to do in this regard,” he wrote. “Our government will act with strict adherence to the laws and its international duties. We are committed to restoring the rule of law to recover the trust of our investors.
All agreements that have been signed with China following the law will be respected. If previous agreements were signed by adhering to the due process of approval by the National Assembly, my government will accept and honour them.”
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, said on Friday that China’s deals with Venezuela should not be affected “no matter how circumstances change”. When asked at a press conference if Beijing had contacted Guaido, Geng said China has been in touch with “all sides” in different ways.
China has loaned US$50 billion to Caracas over the last decade, which the South American nation has been repaying in oil shipments.
The US is threatening new sanctions on top of years of existing ones as Venezuela’s oil output has dropped to near 70-year lows.
During Maduro’s trip to Beijing in September, President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders promised to “provide whatever help it can offer” to cash-strapped Venezuela.
Maduro also secured multiple deals with China worth “billions of dollars”, including another US$5 billion credit line.
While China is a strong backer of Maduro, Guaido conceded that he would need its support too.
“Venezuela needs to reactivate its international relations with different global actors based on a solid spirit of cooperation and the interests of our people,” he said.
“Given its competitiveness and market, China is a fundamental global player with whom we would like to relaunch our relationship based on mutual respect and cooperation,” he said.
“We are ready to begin a constructive relationship and dialogue with China as soon as possible.”
Guaido said his most important task as president would be to increase investments and work towards economic development.
“After the enormous plundering of our resources, which has been carried out during the past 20 years, there are plenty of opportunities for investment in Venezuela,” he said.
“We have to recover several of our industries, including the oil and mining sector, but also the light industry and assembling.
It is essential to us to embark on sustainable economic planning that can restore the country’s productivity to make it an important regional and international trading partner again.”
And China, Guaido said, has “an extraordinary potential as an investor to contribute to the restoration of our country’s economy.”
Asked whether a close relationship with Xi – who has been aligned with Maduro for years – would affect his image, Guaido insisted that China was a necessary partner.
But the alliance looks set to be more commercial than ideological.
Said Guaido: “China has an important role to play because of its capabilities and flexibility as a commercial partner.”
Jiang Shixue, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Latin American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Beijing’s decision about who to recognise as president had nothing to do with commerce or geopolitics.
“By recognising Maduro, China recognises a legitimate choice made by the Venezuelan public, who expressed their will by way of an election,” Jiang said. “If Venezuela holds a re-election, or if a president emerges by peaceful, democratic means, China would recognise the choice made by the Venezuelan public.”
But Maryhen Jimenez Morales, a politics lecturer at the University of Oxford and an expert on Venezuela, said it made perfect sense for China to switch its support to Guaido.
“The political dimension of the crisis is also hurting the bilateral relationship between China and Venezuela because Maduro has basically no popular support anymore,” Jimenez said. “Beijing has enough reasons to support Guaido’s presidency without him offering any additional economic benefits.” Recognising Guaido was “a step forward to a more stable and trustworthy relationship”, she added.