"[We are] ready for what will be a historic visit for the strengthening of cooperation ties and the construction of a new world geopolitics," Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro wrote on social media last Friday when he landed in southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, the first stop in his trip to China between September 8 to 14.
In Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday welcomed President Maduro's fifth visit to China and called on the two sides to push for more fruitful China-Venezuela strategic cooperation, bring more benefits to the two peoples and inject more positive energy into world peace and development.
Both leaders on Wednesday announced the elevation of the China-Venezuela relationship to an all-weather strategic partnership, ahead of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two nations next year.
Good friends, partners
During the meeting, Xi emphasized that China and Venezuela are good friends who trust each other and good partners for common development.
He told Maduro that China views relations with Venezuela from a long-term strategic perspective and, as always, will support Caracas in protecting national sovereignty and countering external interference.
China and Venezuela signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on September 14, 2018 with bilateral cooperation running smoothly in areas such as energy, agriculture, infrastructure and high technology.
China is the main trade partner of Venezuela. In the first half of the year, bilateral trade rose 16 percent year-on-year to $1.92 billion, customs data showed.
In July, Venezuela officially joined the China-led International Lunar Research Station (ILRS). President Xi on Wednesday also congratulated Venezuela for becoming the first country in Latin America to join the project.
After their talks, the two leaders also witnessed the signing of a number of bilateral cooperation documents covering the areas of joint construction of the BRI, economy and trade, education, tourism, science and technology, health, aerospace and civil aviation.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Moros at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, September 13, 2023. /Xinhua
Setting an example for South-South cooperation
When asked about the reason for choosing Shenzhen as the first stop of his trip, Maduro earlier told reporters that his country is keen to draw on the development experience of Shenzhen, one of China's first special economic zones which was at the forefront of China's reform and opening-up policy.
During his meeting with Maduro, President Xi spoke about China's reform and opening up, especially the development of special economic zones.
He said China supports Venezuela in setting up special economic zones and will share relevant experience to help its national development.
China stands ready to work with Venezuela to firmly support each other in exploring a development path suited to their national conditions and strengthen Party and national governance exchanges, Xi stressed.
Maduro hailed Venezuela-China relationship an exemplary of international relations in the Global South.
The people of Venezuela express their heartfelt gratitude to China for its invaluable support and assistance at a time when Venezuela was suffering from the multiple difficulties posed by the illegal unilateral sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic, he added.
As a member of Global South, China firmly supports South-South cooperation and insists on doing its best to help other developing countries achieve common development.
The Global Development Initiative (GDI), proposed by President Xi, now includes over 200 cooperation projects. The Chinese president also just announced to set up a special $10 billion fund dedicated to the implementation of the GDI at the BRICS summit in August.
Moreover, China has created the Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund with a total funding of $4 billion.