Chinese officials are in contact with Venezuela’s ascendant opposition party led by Juan Guaidó regarding China’s investments in the country, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The move represents a blow to incumbent president, Nicolas Maduro, previously considered a close ally of China, as it suggests that Beijing is spreading its risk away from the embattled leader.
Venezuela currently owes around $20 billion to China, which the South American country used to finance a number of oil projects and for government refinancing. For almost twenty years such loans from China and Russia have been critical in sustaining the Venezuelan economy, though cuts to oil output under Maduro have put pressure on these financial relationships.
“China recognizes the increasing risk of a regime change and does not want to be on the bad side of a new regime,” said R. Evan Ellis, expert on China-Latin America relations. “While they prefer stability, they realize they have to put eggs in the other basket.”
“Guaidó could help lift [US] sanctions and get oil flowing again. At the end China has everything to gain from Guaidó,” said Evans Ellis.