A WALL STREET Journal (WSJ) news report that said China had met Venezuela’s self-declared interim President Juan Guaido’s envoys in Washington as it is worried about its projects has been slammed and labelled as ‘fake news’ by the Asian country.
The WSJ report said Chinese diplomats met with Guaido’s envoys to discuss China’s concerns about its prospects in Venezuela which entail a debt of $20 billion owed to them and various oil projects.
Venezuela is currently on a knife edge as the embattled President Nicholas Maduro refuses to step down from the high office, while Guaido has declared himself president. This comes after Maduro was accused of forging elections results.
The international community is currently divided with support for each candidate. Russia is still in Maduro’s corner while the US is behind Guaido.
Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry of China identified the report as “false,” calling it “fake news.”
President Donald Trump’s Venezuela envoy, Elliott Abrams, told a congressional hearing on Wednesday he was aware there had been some correspondence between Chinese authorities and Venezuela’s opposition. He did not, however, classify the transactions as “negotiations.”
The same congressional hearing saw Democratic lawmakers’ rejection of a possible US military intervention to Venezuela as an option.
If Beijing’s attempts had really taken place, that could mean a serious turn of the tide in Venezuela, as it would prove costly for Maduro’s administration relying on the backing of its handful of allies to lose a valuable partner like China.
Besides the US, other countries that recognise Guaido as interim president are Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Israel, and Australia and numerous Latin American countries. However, Russia, China, Iran, and Turkey are stubbornly maintaining their support for the under-pressure Maduro.
A Bloomberg article published on Monday analysed possible escape routes for Maduro mentioning Turkey, Cuba and Russia as possible safe havens for the “president.”
Turkey has backed Maduro, in stark contrast with NATO allies like the US and Canada, aligning itself with Russia and China instead.
According to Turkish government statistics, Venezuela exported $900 million of unrefined gold to Turkey last year, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been one president who consistently calls Maduro to express support. The other president is Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Opposition takes control of state-owned oil company
On Wednesday, the opposition-led Congress of Venezuela nominated new temporary boards of directors to state-oil firm PDVSA’s US refiner Citgo Petroleum, in an effort to take control of the country’s oil revenues.
“With this decision, we are not only protecting our assets, but we are also avoiding continued destruction,” read Guaido’s twitter post on the naming of the Congress.
On Tuesday, the self-proclaimed interim president said the humanitarian aid provided by Brazil will be entering the country on February 23.
Maduro has slammed the attempt as a US-orchestrated display to oust his socialist government and said the aid will not be let into the country.