Flailing regime is seen as easy pickings for China's 'debt-trap diplomacy'
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro took his exhausted country by surprise on Wednesday by boarding a flight to China.
The visit — widely believed to be a pitch by Maduro's fiscally-crippled government for a loan — is likely to sound alarms in capitals around the hemisphere as governments try to guess what Venezuela is offering China and what China's motives might be for lending money to a country that can't pay its debts now.
Beijing knows about Venezuela's solvency crisis better than most. Three years ago, China turned off the credit taps after lending Venezuela more than US$50 billion. It later had to grant the Latin nation a grace period for repayment.
Venezuela watchers say that if China is reopening those taps, it can only be in return for far-reaching concessions, leading some to ask whether Beijing is about to establish its first real beachhead here in the Americas.
At this stage of the collapse of not only the Venezuelan economy, but also the regime, I believe that Maduro is ready to sell the farm at any price," said Diego Arria, Venezuela's former permanent representative to the UN, now exiled in New York. "There is no limit to what he can surrender to the Chinese at this stage."
Maduro seemed unconcerned about his hosts' intentions as he toured Mao's mausoleum on Friday. "We've come to render homage to the Great Helmsman Mao Zedong. I feel very moved remembering one of the great founders of our multipolar 21st century, without hegemonic empires that blackmail, that dominate," Maduro said in comments broadcast by Venezuela's official VTV network.
Read more: CBC News