September 24, 2008
China and Venezuela boasted of their growing energy links during a visit to Beijing by Hugo Chávez
BEIJING -- (AP) -- China and Venezuela pointed to rising oil exports and growing energy cooperation during a visit to Beijing by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez that lent him a new platform from which to criticize Washington.
Chávez said oil exports to China could soar to one million barrels a day by 2012, up from 330,000 per day now. The two sides also plan to build four oil tankers and to construct three oil refineries in China capable of processing Venezuela's heavy, sulfur-laden crude.
''While the world enters an energy crisis, we are investing,'' Chávez said.
Venezuela regards China as a key link in its strategy of diversifying oil sales away from the U.S., which still buys about half of Venezuela's oil despite years of political tension.
On arrival in Beijing on Tuesday, Chávez said Venezuela would demand respect from the United States and others.
''We're no longer the back yard of the United States,'' he said.
Other plans for cooperation with China call for building a refinery in Venezuela and launching a joint oil-development project in the Orinoco River belt. China also plans to build oil tankers for Venezuela.
Chávez met Chinese President Hu Jintao and other officials, although details of their discussions were not immediately available. The two leaders oversaw the signing of cooperation agreements in areas ranging from sports to legal matters.
Chávez was to hold a news conference Thursday morning before flying to Moscow for his third visit to the Russian capital in two months. On Monday, Russia sent a navy squadron to Venezuela for joint maneuvers, an unprecedented deployment of Russian military power to the Western Hemisphere since the Cold War and an obvious snub to Washington.
Venezuela's presidential office also issued a statement in praise of the upcoming launch from China of the VENESAT-1 satellite, which will transmit telephone, Internet, video conferencing and other signals throughout the region from the Caribbean to Paraguay.
More than 100 Venezuelans have been trained in China to operate the satellite, the office said.
''We will have a tool allowing us to say that there are no borders or places in our region we cannot reach,'' the statement quoted Science and Technology Minister Nuris Orihuela, who was accompanying Chávez on his visit, as saying.
The satellite, also known as the Simon Bolivar after the Venezuelan-born South American independence hero, is to be launched on Nov. 1 from western China's Xichang launch site aboard a Chinese Long March 3B rocket.