Blame it on Beijing

When readers suggested I explore the relationship between Venezuela and China on the blog, I was less than enthralled. After all, pretty much all you need to know about these two countries can be summed up in this headline:

Marco Torres

That pretty much sums it up: China bankrolls the revolution, and in exchange Venezuela gives it what it wants: oil, political cover, and even diplomatic support to protect China’s interests, such like what we saw with regards to North Korea.

The baffling, frustrating aspect of the relationship is why the opposition doesn’t bash China more often.

China bankrolls the government that oppresses us; it sells us the washing machines they buy elections with; and it provides diplomatic cover to wash their faces internationally for their abuses. Why is the opposition not denouncing this?

Kowtowing to China is not something the opposition needs to be engaging in. No harm will come from distancing ourselves from China – it’s not like a hypothetical opposition government is going to get anything but scorn from Beijing. In fact, we have a lot to lose from keeping quiet and appearing as weak.

Bashing China may even be domestically popular. When we visited Guárico a few years ago, there was widespread resentment of the way the Chinese were operating – they would come with their workers and have nothing to do with the local workforce. The fact that our country is highly endebted to China, and that the money comes with strings attached – we need to use them to buy Chinese goods – is an outrage that needs to be confronted.

Criticizing the use of Chinese funds is not enough – that is an anti-corruption stance, not a foreign policy stance. The opposition needs to go beyond that, and denounce the alingment between China and chavismo. Ultimately, the question they should answer is whether they believe Chinese interests are aligned with Venezuela’s. Clearly, the answer is no.

The Venezuelan opposition needs to come clean with regards to China’s toxic influence on our politics. China does not share our strategic interests, and they do not share the values that we (should) hold dear. If we oppose China’s influence on our country, we need to come clean and say it. If we don’t, then we’re tacitly approving it.