Venezuela’s Maduro arrives in Beijing ahead of Xi meeting

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro arrived in Beijing on Tuesday ahead of a meeting with China’s Xi Jinping, state media reported, the final stint of a tour that began last week.

Television footage by official Chinese broadcaster CGTN showed Maduro and his wife alighting at a Beijing train station, where they were greeted by children bearing flowers.

While onboard a high-speed train bound for the Chinese capital, Maduro broadcast a message on Venezuelan television praising the countries’ strong bilateral relationship.

“We are leaving on a train bound for the Chinese capital, Beijing, to meet the future, to meet with our brother President Xi Jinping, to reach great agreements that further elevate a historical relationship revitalised by our commander Hugo Chavez,” Maduro said in the broadcast.

“We have been sacrificing sleep, resisting fatigue, but (are) motivated by the great joy that working for the people of Venezuela gives us.”

Maduro, who touched down in the southern city of Shenzhen on Friday, is expected to stay in China until Thursday for his first state visit to the country since 2018.

The 60-year-old leader is seeking to secure membership for Venezuela in BRICS, a bloc of rising nations.

Beijing is Venezuela’s main creditor and has close ties with the diplomatically isolated, inflation-ravaged socialist nation.

Maduro last visited Beijing in 2018 — his 10th trip to China — where he praised Xi’s vision of a “common destiny for humanity”.

Xi also visited Venezuela in 2014.

China loaned about $50 billion to OPEC member Venezuela in the 2010s, with Caracas repaying the debt with shipments of oil, of which it has some of the largest reserves in the world.

It owed $20 billion to Beijing in 2018.

China has also provided extensive technological assistance to Venezuela as it expands control over its population, according to the Washington-based think tank Atlantic Council.