Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Friday in an attempt to secure help from Beijing for his economically-stricken country.
China is Venezuela's main creditor and is "willing to provide whatever help it can offer," Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reportedly promised.
- At the start of his state visit, Maduro bowed three times to honor Chairman Mao in Tiananmen Square.
- Xi and Maduro signed deals on Friday worth 'billions of dollars,' according to Venezuela's socialist leader.
- Maduro is also hoping for a new loan worth $5 billion (€4.28 billion) as well as a six-month extension to the grace period on existing debt.
- Beijing has already loaned $50 billion to Caracas over the last decade, which the South American nation has been repaying in oil shipments. Some $20 billion is still owed to Beijing.
- Maduro referred to China as Venezuela's "big sister."
"We began our state visit to the People's Republic of China, paying tribute to its founder, the Great Helmsman, Mao Tse Tung," tweeted Maduro. "His example and revolutionary struggle marked the twentieth century."
Xi told Maduro that China supports the Venezuelan government's "efforts to seek a stable national development," according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV. "China is willing to strengthen exchanges of experience in governing the country and politics with Venezuela," Xi said.
Hyperinflation: Venezuela has been in a huge recession since Maduro succeeded the late president, Hugo Chavez, in 2013. It has been hit with widespread food shortages, long lines for basic necessities, price hikes and high crime rates. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled to neighboring countries and Spain.
Reforms: Maduro has recently announced a raft of economic measures aimed at bolstering the tanking economy, including a new currency, a 3,000 percent increase in the minimum wage and tax hikes. However, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected Venezuela's inflation rate will hit one million percent by the end of the year.
kw/rt (AFP; Reuters, AP)