Venezuela and China Strengthen Energy-Based Economic and Political Alliance

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez met with Chinese government and business leaders this week to concretize an economic and political alliance based on energy and agricultural production and the construction of a new balance of power in the world.

By James Suggett – Venezuelanalysis.com

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Chinese President Hu Jintao (ABN).
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Chinese President Hu Jintao (ABN).
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Mérida, April 10th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez met with Chinese government and business leaders this week to concretize an economic and political alliance based on energy and agricultural production and the construction of a new balance of power in the world.

"We do not have any doubt that China is the greatest motor that exists to drive the world beyond the crisis of capitalism, and nobody can doubt that the center of gravity of the world has been pushed toward Beijing," Chávez said after meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping said of President Chávez, "His presence constitutes a very positive attribute for the strategic relations of commercial development between China and Venezuela."

Chávez, who seeks to diversify Venezuela's oil export markets, said exports to China have risen from zero to 380,000 barrels per day over the past five years, and by 2013 are projected to reach a million barrels per day.

Also, officials from Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA met with Chinese oil industry officials to plan the joint extraction of oil from Venezuela's Orinoco Oil Belt and the construction of a joint refinery and fleet of oil tankers. Most of these projects are already underway.

Chávez has visited China six times during his decade in office, and during that time Venezuela has become China's fifth largest Latin American trading partner, behind Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina, according to Zhang Tuo, the Chinese ambassador to Venezuela.

Trade between Venezuela and China, which amounted to approximately $200 million when Chávez was elected in 1998, rose to $1.3 billion in 2004 and was $9.7 billion in 2008, said Zhang Tuo.

For future investments, Venezuela and China recently doubled their joint investment fund from $6 billion to $12 billion.

China built and launched Venezuela's first ever telecommunications satellite last November, and China has also provided radar equipment for Venezuela's military and customs services. China's agricultural investments have improved Venezuela's irrigation and production of corn and rice.

"Venezuela is a country that is rich in energy resources and China imports 50% of the oil we consume. Meanwhile, Chinese companies have technology and human resources to cooperate in the exploitation of energy in Venezuela's subsoil," said Zhang Tuo.

Chávez also met with Li Jingtian, a director of the Chinese Communist Party's Cadre School, to discuss China's involvement in the formation of political leaders in Venezuela.

"Despite the geographical distance that separates our countries, the Chinese Communist Party, our government, and our people follow the development of Venezuela very closely," said Li Jingtian. "We are entirely willing to cooperate with the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in the formation of cadres."

In addition, Olympic team trainers from both countries signed an accord to share training techniques for swimmers, wrestlers, soccer players, and baseball players.

Directly before visiting China, Chávez had visited Japan, Iran, and attended a summit with a group of Arab and oil exporting countries who met in Qatar. After departing China, he landed in Cuba to meet with former President Fidel Castro.

This coming Tuesday and Wednesday, Venezuela will host member countries of ALBA, a cooperation-based trade and integration bloc meant to be an alternative to U.S.-dominated free trade accords. Then, Venezuelan officials will attend the Americas Summit in Trinidad and Tobago next weekend.

Chávez mentioned the possibility of ALBA countries increasing their trade with China, and said it is important for ALBA countries to be "a united front" at the Americas Summit.

Reflecting on his nearly concluded world diplomatic tour, Chávez said, "Countries from Latin America as well as the great powers are interested in what is happening in Venezuela and what we have come to propose."