For the past year, Chinese media has been awash with criticism of Beijing’s high-risk loans to unstable regimes, and Venezuela is always the chief example: Venezuelan economy is on the verge of collapse! China’s 50 Billion loan squandered, Venezuela defaults on Chinese loans: no money, no oil, China and Venezuelan opposition hold talks: ensuring massive loan repayment, just to mention a few.
Well, Western media caught up with Beijing’s headlines. The WSJ’s Kejal Vyas recently wrote an extensive piece on China’s frustration with Venezuela:
“The consensus was that no new money was going to be invested,” said one of the officials. “There was a clear message from up top: Let them fall,” said the official. Since February, at least three Venezuelan opposition lawmakers as well as economists and oil-industry consultants have gone to Beijing at the invitation of China’s Communist Party to discuss a transitional government and recovery plan to turn around the world’s worst-performing economy, according to several Chinese and Venezuelan people familiar with the talks.
China is mainly concerned about debt repayment (approximately $20 billion in loans outstanding), the well-being of more than one hundred thousand of it’s citizens residing in Venezuela, and about who knows what other bi-lateral agreements Venezuela has failed to honor… But they brought this charlie foxtrot onto themselves.
Whatever they saw in our late Comandante and crispy shores, be it access to oil and minerals or a gateway to counter US influence in the region, they miscalculated and and aren’t quite getting enough bang for their buck and the headache. If Beijing is tending bridges to the opposition, it’s because it sees the potential for a government transition on the horizon and wants to secure their interests by being at the negotiating table early.
Is political change possible? I have always thought so. Venezuela is an open society with great skills and strengths, even if many of the people now with the greatest skills are expatriates. Even if oil volumes are downgraded, the country has a strong untapped base of natural resources and easy access to the markets of North America. Chavez and his successors have damaged Venezuela but they have not completely destroyed the potential of a country that should be one of the most successful in Latin America.
If ever a nation needs and deserves a revolution it is Venezuela.
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