A top Venezuelan diplomat has expressed support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, also known as the Silk Road Economic Belt, urging non-member countries to avoid sabotaging the project.
“We wish for those other countries in the world not to make any obstacles to the success of this initiative,” said Felix Gonzalez, vice minister of foreign affairs for Middle East, Asia and Oceania, Reuters reported.
Gonzalez made the remark on Sunday on the sidelines of a two-day Belt and Road summit in Beijing. Leaders from 29 countries, as well as representatives from the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund, are expected to be in attendance throughout the conference.
The event is meant to promote Chinese President Xi Jinping’s vision of expanding links across the Eurasian landmass, underpinned by billions of dollars in infrastructure investment.
In his opening remarks at the forum, Xi pledged an astounding US$124 billion to the new Silk Road plan, reinforcing that everyone was welcome to join what he envisioned would be a path to peace and prosperity for the world.
Currently Latin America is not included in the official initiative, but China says the initiative is “an open and inclusive one” and welcomes all countries to participate. Venezuela, which boasts friendly relations with China, is slated to expand economic ties with nations participating in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Since the election of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Beijing and Caracas have vastly expanded economic cooperation. Prior to Chavez’s 1999 election, trade between both nations was less than US$500 million annually, Venezuela Analysis reported. Since 1999, that figure has surpassed US$7.5 billion.
China is currently Venezuela’s second-largest trade partner.
“We should build an open platform of cooperation and uphold and grow an open world economy," Xi told the opening of the summit.
“We should jointly create an environment that will facilitate opening up and development; establish a fair, equitable and transparent system of international trade and investment rules.”
Some of China's close allies and partners were at the forum, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.