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29 Jan, 2019 07:53

China opposes sanctions against Venezuela, says US will be responsible for consequences

China opposes sanctions against Venezuela, says US will be responsible for consequences

China has thrown more weight behind embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, stressing that it supports him even despite the perils he faces and making clear that fresh US sanctions will only make life worse for Venezuelans.

President Maduro, who is attempting to bring the lingering turmoil under control and resist the US-led pressure, has received a new sign of support from Beijing. Asked if China is sticking with Maduro, Geng Shuang, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said: “We have sent President Xi Jinping’s special envoy to attend inauguration ceremony of President Maduro.”

“If we didn’t recognize him, why did we need to attend it?” he asked rhetorically. The comment came only a day after the US slapped Venezuela with a package of sanctions targeting state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA).

China believes the US restrictions will do more harm to ordinary people’s lives than the government, Geng argued. In all, Washington “should bear responsibility for the serious consequences [stemming] from this.”

Announcing the sanctions, the White House officially declared that they would serve to prevent the elected government from using oil revenues to cement power. However, there might be another, more robust rationale behind escalating the Venezuelan crisis.

CIA World Factbook says Venezuela has the world’s biggest proven crude oil reserves leaving behind Saudi Arabia, Canada, Iran and Iraq. And as Bush-era arch-hawk John Bolton put it, the US had “a lot at stake” in Venezuela’s affairs. 

“It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela,” he told Fox Business host Trish Regan. 

China, for its part, has also much to lose if events in Venezuela get out of control. Beijing has lent more than $50 billion to Caracas through loan agreements over the past ten years, securing energy supplies for its economy. Just last year, Venezuela received a hefty Chinese loan worth $5bn and joined Beijing’s New Silk Road Initiative.

The Asian power is one of Venezuela’s biggest trading partners and political allies, but its previous response to the crisis was quite reserved. As the crisis unfolded, it continuously called outside actors to observe Venezuelan sovereignty and not to meddle with its domestic affairs.

The confrontation between government and opposition forces in Venezuela escalated when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself to be interim president after calls for regime change from Washington. The 35-year-old was largely unknown outside Venezuela until the beginning of this year, but he now enjoys the backing of the US, Israel, Canada, Australia and a number of South American countries.

However, the Maduro government has China, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Belarus and South Africa on its side. These nations have demanded that countries following the US lead drop attempts to interfere in Venezuela’s affairs.

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