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Maduro adopts Beijing-friendly approach of predecessor
The new government of Venezuela will continue to prioritize its relations with China and expects to learn from China's development, Venezuelan Vice-President Jorge Arreaza said in Beijing on Thursday.
Arreaza, who began an official five-day visit to China on Wednesday, made the remarks while meeting Vice-President Li Yuanchao at the Great Hall of the People.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a ceremony at the military academy in Caracas, in this July 11, 2013 handout photo provided by Miraflores Palace.[Photo/Agencies]
Observers said there is no need to worry about changes in Venezuela's China policies in the post-Chavez period. Frequent high-level visits showed that the two nations are trying to consolidate ties.
"Apparently, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has adopted Chavez's policies on China," said Wu Baiyi, deputy head of the Institution of Latin American Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
"Besides, the Venezuelan economy's steady development and its oil exports are closely linked to China," he said.
Li told Arreaza that the two nations should maintain closer high-level contacts, expand cooperation in the areas of energy, finance and agriculture, step up exchanges regarding experience in governance and deepen their strategic partnership.
China and Venezuela forged a strategic partnership of common development in 2001.
Li said the two nations should jointly develop a blueprint for the future development of bilateral links.
Arreaza said his government will continue to prioritize its relations with China, adding that the country is ready to learn from China's experience in development and strengthen cooperation in all fields.
The late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez visited China six times after he took office in 1999 and greatly encouraged boosting ties.
Bilateral trade reached $23 billion in 2012. According to the Chinese embassy in Venezuela, China has provided more than $30 billion in financing to Venezuela to push forward nearly 300 projects of mutual cooperation.
There have been concerns among Chinese investors that favorable policies on China might change under the new government.
Maduro told a visiting high-ranking Chinese official after Chavez's funeral in March that the best way to pay tribute to the late leader was to keep deepening the strategic partnership with China.
Beijing and Caracas have maintained frequent mutual visits of high-level officials since then.
Li Yuanchao visited Venezuela for five days in May and met with key leaders including Maduro, Arreaza, and President of the Venezuelan National Assembly Diosdado Cabello.
The Foreign Ministry said the visit was of great importance because the two countries had just completed a transition of leadership.
Cabello paid a visit to China in July, several days before Arreaza's China trip.
Cabello said ahead of the visit that Venezuela's relations with China were stable and that cooperation between the two nations would continue.
He said Venezuela would like to be an important partner in China's energy imports. China is a major source of Venezuela's export income, he said.
Cabello, who is also the first vice-president of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, said the party will dispatch 50 party members to learn in China in September. He said such communication will help the development of the country and the party.
Venezuelan Oil and Mining Minister Rafael Ramirez also came to Beijing in June.
Ramirez told reporters that Venezuela exported 626,000 barrels of oil per day to China in the first four months of this year, 18 percent more than the same period last year. He said the figure is expected to reach 1 million barrels per day within two years.
In 2005, the figure was only 49,000 barrels per day.
"Chinese enterprises are expanding investment in Venezuela, a reflection of their confidence in the Venezuelan economy, and its relations with China," said Wu Baiyi.
Wang Zhen, former Chinese ambassador to Venezuela, said many other political parties in Venezuela, including the opposition, also attach great importance to ties with Beijing.
Zhang Fan contributed to this story.