Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi (right) meets with Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nicols Maduro Moros during his official visit to China in November 2007.
Venezuela and China established diplomatic relations on June 28, 1974 and over the ensuing 34 years the two nations consolidated ties that continue to grow stronger through friendship and mutual respect.
If we could build an imaginary bridge between the two countries, to highlight the most important aspects and facts of the bilateral relations in these 34 years, the period which began in 1999 and corresponds to the Venezuelan Bolivarian government, would have a significant relevance in the design as a whole, due to the rapid and solid growth and diversification of the current bilateral relations.
It is not a coincidence that the strengthening of relations with China came under the government of President Hugo Chavez.
Bolivarian foreign policy is clearly based on the same principles that guide China's foreign policy, such as mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, equality and mutual benefit, peaceful coexistence and non-interference in internal affairs.
Both countries oppose imperialism, hegemonism and colonialism, promote world peace as a supreme value and stimulate multipolarity as the right path to international balance and development.
Since 1999 Venezuela and China have intensified bilateral dialog and mutual consultation and exchanged numerous high-level official visits, among which the four state visits of President Chavez to China (1999, 2001, 2004 and 2006); the visits to Venezuela of the former Chinese President Jiang Zemin in 2001; of former Vice-President Zeng Qinghong in 2005; of Li Changchun, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China, in 2007; and more recently, the visit to Caracas of Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu, in May 2008.
The concrete results of the dialog are extraordinary. Bilateral trade is experiencing unprecedented growth and cooperation between the two countries today totals 255 agreements, 75 percent of which were signed during the government of President Chavez.
Out of these agreements, 79 mega-projects are being developed, some considered strategic. Internationally renowned Chinese companies are participating with the Venezuelan government in these projects, which include all possible fields of cooperation between the two countries.
The Venezuela-China High-Level Commission, founded by the two governments in 2001, is the mechanism in charge of the following up of the cooperation projects. The Commission is presided over by the Venezuelan Ministry of Planning and Development and the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission.
The mechanism will host its 7th meeting at the end of this year in Beijing to measure the progress achieved since its 6th meeting held in Caracas in November 2007.
The Strategic Alliance for Joint Development that guides cooperation between Venezuela and China started in 2001 and focused on two fundamental issues - energy and agriculture. Since then the cooperation has evolved to become more complex and diversified.
It includes several important projects in agriculture, such as the construction of the national irrigation system in Venezuela and projects to strengthen the agro industry.
Both countries are also creating binding relations between companies in the energy sector and searching for ways to guarantee food safety. A plan of action is already in progress between major Chinese petroleum companies and PDVSA Agricola, the subsidiary of the Venezuelan national petroleum company in charge of agricultural development.
The strategic alliance shows rapid and steady development in the energy sector. The goal is to consolidate Venezuela as one of the main suppliers of crude oil and products to the Chinese market by 2012, creating the required infrastructure by building refineries in China and oil tankers to ensure transportation, as well as sharing the tasks of exploration, exploitation and production.
During the last five years, Venezuela and China have expanded their relations beyond the traditional sectors of agriculture and energy, widening the scope of cooperation to include areas such as telecommunications (national optical fiber network and mobile telephone factory among others); science and technology (Venezuelan Industrial Science and Technology Park and the Bolivarian factory of computers); aerospace (Venesat-1 Simon Bolivar Satellite project); and infrastructure (national railway network, Bolivarian aqueduct and specially, the national housing construction project, one of the main social priorities of the Venezuelan government).
At the same time, the cooperation in culture, education and sports have also grown considerably and new agreements made for joint action in social issues that will allow Venezuela to benefit from China's unparalleled experience in fighting poverty.
The financing of such large and complex bilateral cooperation is guaranteed by the creation of the Joint Financing Fund, also known as the "heavy fund", launched by Venezuela and China this 2008, with a capital of $6 billion, renewable every three years, that has a permanent office in Caracas.
Venezuelan Ambassador to China Roco Maneiro says cooperation projects between Venezuela and China are based on a strategic alliance born from solidarity and mutual benefit.
"Our vision is to concentrate on the implementation and development of the agreements," she said. "The commitment with China is to fulfill the whole range of projects of significant impact for both countries, especially for Venezuela, to do it well and without delay."
(China Daily 07/04/2008 page13)