U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has said Latin America is an example of China’s flawed foreign policy, suggesting Chinese loans to Venezuela were making the crisis there worse.
China says Pence’s comments are baseless. And for his part, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is pointing to what he’s calling the mutual benefits of the relationship.
CGTN’s Stephen Gibbs has more from Caracas.
Oil rich Venezuela is in the midst of a recession of wartime proportions, that have already had regional consequences. For months, several thousand migrants have been leaving the country every day.
The United States says the only solution is for President Maduro to go. Washington has sanctioned him, and almost his entire cabinet, and restricted Venezuela’s access to financial markets.
The U.S. is calling out China, which it says is bankrolling the Maduro government, and just prolonging the misery.
“Within our own hemisphere, Beijing has extended a lifeline to the corrupt and incompetent Maduro regime in Venezuela, that’s been oppressing its own people,” said Mike Pence the United States Vice President.
That “lifeline” the vice president mentioned is a $5 billion loan that Venezuela said it had agreed to shortly before Maduro visited Beijing last month. China, however, never confirmed that it is providing any new financing.
Over the last decade, China has lent Venezuela more than $50 billion, which is mostly paid back in oil. Pence says that has saddled the Venezuelan people with debt, possibly for years to come. But that is not how the government in Caracas portrays the relationship.
Hours after Pence spoke, President Maduro paid tribute to a Chinese delegation that has been involved in constructing housing projects in Venezuela. He says the China-Venezuela partnership is mutually beneficial.
“China shows you can be a great power without being an empire. A great power to construct the common destiny of humanity,” said Nicholas Maduro the Venezuelan president.
Last month China opened its embassy in the Dominican Republic. The Caribbean nation is one of three, along with Panama and El Salvador, that has shifted its ties from Taipei to Beijing this year.
The U.S. says this is troubling, and threatens stability in the Taiwan Strait.
China’s response is that the accusation, like others the U.S. has been making, is “baseless.”