16 Aug 2019
China’s largest state-run oil company PetroChina will no longer make direct purchases of Venezuelan oil following the latest round of economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. on the Maduro regime, Bloomberg reported
According to sources who spoke with Bloomberg’s Lucia Kassai, China National Petroleum Corp. has canceled plans to import around five million barrels’ worth of Venezuelan crude oil in the wake of the latest round of sanctions
imposed by the Trump administration.
The sanctions, imposed
this month, froze all the U.S.-based assets of the Maduro regime as well as those held by individuals or entities providing “material support” to the regime. China’s moves mean state-run companies involved in U.S. markets risk violating the sanctions by continuing to buy Venezuelan oil.
The withdrawal will come as a considerable blow to the Maduro regime, which relies on the profits from the country’s vast oil resources to maintain their grip on power. The regime has also long been dependent on China dating back to the rule of Hugo Chávez, with Beijing providing diplomatic and financial support as Maduro faces increasing international isolation and the effective bankruptcy of their economy.
Over the past decade, China has lent Venezuela $50 billion in exchange
for oil payments, as well as recently sending aid shipments
to deal with the ongoing humanitarian crisis. This year alone, the country has been importing around 330,000 barrels of crude every day, around a third of the country’s total oil production
. Beijing has also expressed frustration
at the regime’s inability to fully repay their debts and deliver their oil payments on time.
The decision to cut oil imports may also be an effort to appease the United States amid the two countries’ ongoing trade dispute, although the Chinese Communist Party still nominally supports Maduro’s bid to stay in power. While the U.S. and the majority of western democracies have recognized
President Juan Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, China is one of the 14 nations that stands behind the socialist regime alongside Russia, Syria, Iran, Cuba, and other nefarious dictatorships.
Maduro’s term ended in January, but the dictator refused to vacate the presidential palace or hand over control of the military, leading the National Assembly to swear Guaidó in as internim president. Guaidó has been unable to governor due to Maduro’s usurpation of power.
Last month, Chinese officials dismissed
criticism from Admiral Craig Faller, the head of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), that Beijing’s closeness to Maduro is a destabilizing influence in the region.
“Officials from the US have been smearing China’s cooperation with Venezuela and Latin America, but their words just do not hold water,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang. “As you all know, China’s cooperation with Venezuela and Latin America follows the principle of mutual respect, equality and win-win cooperation. It focuses on common development.”