September 17, 2008

Venezuela Eyeing China As Oil Buyer

By Saibal Dasgupta

BEIJING: China is set to expand its influence right into the heart of the American continent with the help of the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who recently expelled the United States envoy from his country.

Chavez is going to visit Beijing in search of buyers for Venezuelan oil, which he has stopped selling to the United States.

The Chinese foreign ministry said energy cooperation will be part of the discussions on the overall relationship between China and Venezuela when Chavez visits Beijing between September 23 and 25.

But the relationship between these two nations will not be aimed against any other country, Jiang Yu, the foreign ministry spokesperson told reporters said. Venezuelan oil comprises just four per cent of China's total oil imports, she pointed out.

The three-day visit by Chavez, regarded as a maverick politician capable of taking on Washington, comes at a time when Chinese leaders have been smarting against strident criticism of China in the US. Chavez has also announced that Venezuela will launch a satellite from Chinese soil on November 1.

The two countries will sign documents on cooperation in justice, sports and other fields. "We know that Venezuela is an important oil exporter in the world. Our energy cooperation is part of our cooperations," she said.

"The two countries are keeping consultation in this regard," she said in connection with oil trade with Venezuela.

Chavez has made it clear he was looking new markets including China to replace the losses Venezuela would suffer by boycotting its biggest customer, the United States.

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