Originally published by Pangea Risk
Up until now China has remained mostly silent in regards to the political challenges faced by one its largest trading partners in Latin America. That is until Beijing’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused the US government of bullying and abusing its political and judicial systems to destabilise the Venezuelan power structure saying, “US practice of political bullying impacts regular international personnel exchanges and endangers mutual trust and cooperation between countries. China firmly rejects this.”
Beijing’s interests in Venezuela dates back to as early as 2003. A mutually beneficial relationship, Venezuela remains China’s fourth largest oil importer. The ties are so strong that during the COVID-19 pandemic, China sent much needed assistance to the Latin American country.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is also a public supporter of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Entering into the debate Beijing has sought to offer additional support to President Maduro and Venezuela.
The extradition of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab to the US from Cape Verde is one of the causes for diplomatic tensions between President Maduro’s government and Washington. The US views Saab’s extradition as a means to apply “maximum pressure” on President Madura to achieve its goal of regime change in Venezuela.
Beijing’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian believes “The US has been playing a disgraceful role on the Venezuelan issue. It has constantly abused political and judicial maneuvers, including sanctions and extraditions for the purpose of meddling with Venezuela's internal affairs.”
A view supported by the people of Cape Verde where Saab awaits extradition. 65% of people surveyed believe the $400m “investment” offered to Cape Verde by the United States in compensation is in return for Cape Verde’s agreeing to detain and extradite Saab. The cascading effect of this international behaviour means the people of Cape Verde are losing trust in their judiciary and executive.
Beijing is keen to see this long-held strategy of the US government end. “China urges the US to change its old habit, heed the call for justice from the international community, and abide by international law and basic norms governing international relations,” said Zhao Lijian.
The involvement of Beijing President Maduro hopes will be the trump card in the case of Alex Saab.
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