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Venezuela, Kim-Trump, Huawei - Chinese FM presser at NPC

  • 8 Mar 2019

The crisis in Venezuela, the Kim-Trump summit in Hanoi and China's tech giant Huawei were key topics at a press conference by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday on the sidelines of the country's ongoing National People's Congress.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (C) during a press conference on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China's National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, Friday, March 8, 2019. ( Mark Schiefelbein / AP )

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met the press Friday morning on the sidelines of the second session of the ongoing 13th National People's Congress (NPC).

Repeating history's mistakes with Venezuela

The Chinese government’s top diplomat warned against interference in Venezuela or imposing sanctions on the South American nation, saying history offered a clear lesson about not meddling.

“The internal affairs of every country should be decided by their own people. External interference and sanctions will only exacerbate the tension situation, and allow the law of the jungle to once again run amuck,” Wang said at his annual news conference at the NPC.

“There’s already enough of such lessons from history, and the same old disastrous road should not be followed.”

China has repeatedly called for outsiders not to interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs. By not taking a side in the dispute pitting President Nicolas Maduro against the head of Congress and self-proclaimed 'interim president' Juan Guaido, Beijing is both hedging its bets on the outcome of the confrontation, while implicitly supporting Maduro as the incumbent leader.

Wang repeated China's call for the government and opposition to seek a political solution via peaceful dialogue, to ensure the country’s stability and people’s safety, Wang added.

Since he declared himself interim president on January 23, most Latin and Western nations have recognised opposition leader Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state. Countries backing Maduro include Cuba, Russia, Turkey and Iran.

Washington has pledged to “expand the net” of US sanctions on Venezuela, including more on banks supporting Maduro’s government.

Beijing has lent more than $50 billion to Venezuela through oil-for-loan agreements over the past decade, securing energy supplies for its fast-growing economy.

China has been stepping up its engagement in Latin America, to the concern of Washington, which has reacted particularly strongly to several nations there recently ditching diplomatic ties with self-ruled Taiwan in favour of China.

Last month, US National Security Advisor John Bolton requested cooperation with El Salvador to counteract what he called the “predatory” expansion of China. El Salvador abandoned Taiwan last year.

Wang said that China-Latin America relations had achieved great progress and were not aimed at any “third party."

Wang on Kim and Trump

Wang said last week's failed North Korea-US summit in Vietnam was nevertheless an "important step" toward denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula.

The talks between Kim Jong-un, leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and US President Donald Trump collapsed over mistaken assumptions each side brought to the table about what the other side was willing to give up in order to get what it wanted.

The Chinese foreign minister said the talks were, however, "worthy of full recognition."

He encouraged the two countries to "remain patient," and noted that many issues concerning the peninsula "cannot be solved overnight."

The Kim-Trump summit was foreshortened and ended with a statement or deal after a dispute over how much sanctions relief Washington should provide Pyongyang in return for nuclear disarmament steps.

China is the DPRK's only major ally, but adheres to UN sanctions over the North's nuclear programs.

The China-US relationship and Huawei

"The China-US relationship has gone through a lot in the last 40 years. We have made historic progress, but also face new challenges," Wang said.

He added that competition between China and the US was normal, but the key was to see the bigger picture.

He said China and the US should and would avoid confrontation since the interests of the two countries are already inseparable.

However, the foreign minister promised "all necessary measures" to defend Chinese companies and citizens abroad amid legal clashes between tech giant Huawei and Washington.

Wang said recent legal action against Chinese companies and individuals was "deliberate political suppression."

Wang was responding to a question about Beijing's stance on Canada's arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on US criminal charges. Meng faces possible extradition to the US. Huawei on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the US, aimed at overturning restrictions on sales of its telecom equipment.

China's government has demanded Canada release Huawei's chief financial officer. Wang gave no details of what Beijing might do, but a Canadian former diplomat and a businessman have been arrested in China in what is widely seen as an effort to pressure Canada.

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