Yesterday I published a new piece in World Politics Review comparing Chinese-Venezuelan and US-Venezuelan relations.
Since the election of former President Chávez, the Venezuelan government has diversified its political-economic relations and sought to reduce its dependence on the US. In recent years, no country has become more important in this strategy than China.
During Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent visit to Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro pledged to soon send a million barrels of oil per day to China. If this happens, China will surpass the US as Venezuela’s largest consumer of oil. However, political instability or an opposition victory in a future presidential recall referendum could jeopardize Chinese investments and access to Venezuelan oil reserves.
The US remains Venezuela’s largest trading partner. However, US political influence has diminished. Venezuela has prioritized regional bodies that exclude the US, has not exchanged ambassadors since 2010, and has expelled a number of US diplomats from the country.
I conclude that a fragile equilibrium exists, but political winds may shake the balance if the Maduro government cannot solve Venezuela’s economic problems.