Xi Jinping calls for closer ties with oil-rich Venezuela

Xi also wants more cooperation on global issues to help strengthen voice of developing nations

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 July, 2014, 5:20am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 July, 2014, 5:33pm

President Xi Jinping and his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro have agreed to upgrade ties between their two countries.

Xi was in the Venezuelan capital Caracas on the third leg of his Latin American tour.

He called on the two countries to boost cooperation in finance, investment and energy, Xinhua reported, adding that Beijing and Caracas agreed to develop a "comprehensive strategic partnership".

Venezuela has the world's largest proven reserves of oil, according to the international energy company BP.

During the nearly 15 years that late president Hugo Chavez was in power, China became a strategic ally of Venezuela in America's backyard.

China is the second-largest buyer of Venezuelan oil, with an average daily volume of 640,000 barrels, in part to pay off Venezuela's debt of some US$17 billion. Both countries aim to increase exports in the coming years to one million barrels a day.

Watch: China's Xi in Venezuela signs new oil deals

Xi said China was ready to increase satellite technology transfer to Venezuela and to encourage Chinese companies to take part in the construction of special economic zones in Venezuela.

The two sides should also cooperate further on global economic governance, energy security and climate change to help strengthen the position of developing countries, Xi said.

Maduro said at a joint press conference that China was the most important emerging economic power in the 21st century.

Xi was due yesterday to arrive in Cuba, where he will spend the final two days of his Latin American tour. China is the country's second largest investor, after Venezuala.

A group of Chinese business leaders interested in investing in the communist-governed island are accompanying Xi during his trip, media reports said.