This Wednesday, at the closing of the 17th meeting of the China-Venezuela High-Level Joint Commission held in Beijing, Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro presented a report on the work that has been carried out during his tour of the People’s Republic of China to date, where a series of agreements were reached in different areas.
Earlier, Delcy Rodríguez, president of the Joint Commission on the Venezuelan side, summed up the spirit of Sino-Venezuelan relations as “a brotherhood and of mutual support,” a sentiment that was echoed by her Chinese counterpart Zheng Shanjie during his speech.
For this reason, the Venezuelan president did not hesitate to say that the working sessions held in recent days are an expression of a “new stage” in the history of cooperation and friendship between the two countries. The previous time that this commission met was in 2018, during the last visit of President Maduro to Beijing.
Indeed, said President Maduro, “all the commissions have been important, but I believe that this is the best day that the China-Venezuela High Level Joint Commission has had for the relationship between our countries.”
President Maduro reported that 10 high-level documents were signed. In total, 31 working agreements were signed between Venezuelan and Chinese authorities, including agreements related to the Belt and Road Initiative. Prior to the closing of the meeting, President Maduro was received at the Great Hall of the People in the Chinese capital by his counterpart Xi Jinping.
Ambos Mandatarios han sido testigos de la firma de varios documentos de cooperación binacional en áreas como la Franja y la Ruta, la economía y el comercio, la educación, el turismo, la ciencia y la tecnología, la salud, el aeroespacial y la aviación civil, entre otras. pic.twitter.com/2XO31qu5as
— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) September 13, 2023
Fifth stage in Sino-Venezuelan Relations
Venezuela’s president characterized the developments as “a new chapter in our bilateral history.”
Relations between China and Venezuela began in 1974, the first stage, when diplomatic relations were established and the existence of a single China was recognized—in terms of the separatist attempts of some political and economic sectors in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
A diplomatic stage of formal relations lasted from 1974 to 1999, when the second stage was opened with the arrival of Commander Hugo Chávez to China in October of that year, which lasted until 2014. “It is a virtuous stage, of important achievements,” Maduro added.
Invited by the Venezuela government, Xi Jinping’s arrival in Caracas in July 2014 began the third stage in the relationship, according to President Maduro, with the elevation to a comprehensive strategic bilateral relationship.
This process lasted until 2018, when sanctions and the blockade began to torpedo the fluidity of cooperation between the two countries. Then came the fourth stage, “painful and difficult, that affected Venezuela’s relations with China. It was a stage of heroic resistance.” It was the time when there was the “economic warfare,” and in that same stage came the pandemic that affected humanity. China was there, by the side of the Venezuelan people,” noted President Maduro.
President Maduro recalled when, through unilateral coercive measures, the United States blocked Venezuela’s access to medicines and vaccines during the pandemic, China provided humanitarian assistance to Venezuela and to many others around the world.
Now, said President Maduro, a new stage is beginning “at a higher level, corresponding to the challenges of the 21st century. This relationship will be accelerated. The documents contain the bases. Each one must have short, medium, and long term results.”
Where cooperation is headed
President Maduro said that the documents signed represent the commitment to bilateral work in the areas of energy—the “backbone” of the agreements—and also finance and currency, “strengthening the capacity of the yuan,” economy, trade, industry,” and “in the area of trade education for Venezuela’s export goals.”
“Progress will be made in the mining area. We call on China to invest in mining,” said President Maduro, and noted that Venezuela’s potential for the development of this industry is important if we take into account the substantial certified reserves of gold, diamonds, nickel, bauxite, and iron, among other fundamental materials in the global production chains, within Venezuela, and of special interest for Chinese industries and scientific development.
In addition, “a Special Economic Zone of 9 million hectares will be decreed in the eastern part of Venezuela with agricultural potential,” where, eventually, agri-food export cooperation with China will be developed.
The essential purpose of the Special Economic Zones, according to its legislation, is to develop mechanisms for national and foreign public and private investment of strategic interest to the Venezuelan state. The aim of the SEZs is to enhance old developments and promote new ones in areas such as industry, science and technology, tourism, and trade of goods and services.
The president also mentioned that documents are being signed for aerospace initiatives, including “our incorporation to the lunar station project” as well as in the area of tourism. Maduro took the opportunity to say that “Conviasa is ready for direct flights to China.”
Finally, the Venezuelan president said that “under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has become a great country committed to peace, development, and the welfare of all mankind and an important engine for promoting a new multipolar world.”
He concluded that “we are entering a new epoch, a new stage, a higher level, the fifth epoch, the splendorous era of advancing together as brotherly peoples.” This reflection was in line with China’s foreign policy statement which called for building a “community of shared future for mankind,” where “all kinds of differences in human society point to the greatest possible benefits for all,” according to a speech by Xi Jinping in 2017.
In this sense, “Venezuela and China enjoy a deep friendship and fruitful cooperation, and their relations can be considered a model for relations between countries of the Global South,” concluded the Venezuelan president.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune