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Strong bond of friendship

Updated: 2013-09-24 07:15
( China Daily)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's ongoing visit to China is an important event in the relationship between Beijing and Caracas. With the two poised to embrace the 40th anniversary of the founding of diplomatic ties next year, the visit has presented itself as a golden opportunity for the two partners to carry on their old friendship and build an even brighter future together.

Strong bond of friendship

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) meets with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 23, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]

Though tens of thousands of miles apart, bilateral cooperation between China and Venezuela has been on a fast track in recent years. The charismatic late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez made great contributions to this desirable trend, and it is heartening to see his successor is keen to forge an even stronger strategic partnership with China.

President Xi Jinping and Maduro signed 12 agreements on Sunday in fields such as finance, energy, education, aerospace and infrastructure. The two countries will also stage a series of cultural events to deepen mutual understanding and friendly feelings between the two peoples. These initiatives will no doubt inject new vitality into the pragmatic cooperation between them.

Over the years, China and Venezuela have built up strong trade and economic cooperation. China is Venezuela's second-largest trading partner and its second-largest market for crude oil exports. Bilateral trade was only $350 million in 2000, but it skyrocketed to $23 billion in 2012 thanks to the initiation of several multibillion projects. By August 2012, the size of China-Venezuela cooperative fund program had reached $20 billion, and more than 200 joint projects are now being conducted in Venezuela. And with Venezuela's oil industry thirsty for Chinese funds and China trying to diversify its energy imports, deepening cooperation in energy is a win-win strategy for both.

It serves both sides' interests to continue to build on this good momentum and expand the scope of bilateral cooperation.

And considering Venezuela's important position in Latin America, the growth of China-Venezuelan ties will contribute to the larger picture of China's interaction with the region at large. President Xi paid a visit to the region earlier this year, sending an unmistakable message that the region now holds a special niche in China's interaction with the outside world.

With Latin American countries assuming a rising role in the world's economic and geopolitical landscapes, it is a natural choice for China to seek a stronger bond with the region through pragmatic cooperation.

(China Daily 09/24/2013 page8)