English language booted from press conference in China

14 Sep, 2023 17:39 / Updated 6 months ago
Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro told a reporter to speak Mandarin, declaring “it’s a new world”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro brushed off a question asked in English at the end of his visit to Beijing, telling the reporter to speak Chinese instead.

“Speak Mandarin, there’s no English interpreter,” Maduro cut off a reporter from Hong Kong. “It’s a new world!” he added. The exchange was captured on video and quickly made rounds on social media.

“We are in the 21st century, the century of the end of hegemonism and imperialism, the century in which a different, multipolar, and multicentric world was born for peace and unity,” Maduro said at the press conference, according to the Venezuelan broadcaster Telesur.

The Venezuelan president was wrapping up his six-day visit to China, aimed at improving the “strategic partnership” between the two countries. On Wednesday, he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and signed over 30 working documents, ranging from trade to energy cooperation.

China “firmly supports Venezuela’s efforts to safeguard national sovereignty, national dignity and social stability, as well as Venezuela’s just cause of opposing external interference,” Xi said following Wednesday’s meeting.

Maduro described the current relationship between Beijing and Caracas as the “fourth stage of heroic resistance,” noting that Venezuela has always had support from China “in the face of the arbitrary sanctions implemented by the US and its allies.”

Venezuela has been under an economic blockade by the US and the EU since 2019, when Washington attempted ‘regime change’ in Caracas by recognizing opposition politician Juan Guaido as “interim president.” The West also seized Venezuelan gold and sovereign funds, handing them over to Guaido’s “government.” The effort eventually fizzled out after an abortive military coup, whose leaders fled to Western embassies. Guaido lost his seat in the legislature last year.

Maduro has sought to defeat the US sanctions by doing more business with China, Russia, Iran and other non-Western countries. One of the deals he signed in Beijing was to export Venezuela’s coffee, avocados, fish, and octopus to the Chinese market.