UPDATE 2-China warns of repeating history's mistakes with Venezuela

Jose Antonio Oliveros Febres-Cordero

(Adds comments from U.S. Secretary of State)

BEIJING, March 8 (Reuters) – The Chinese government’s top diplomat issued a stern warning on Friday against interfering in Venezuela and imposing sanctions, saying history offered a clear lesson about not “following the same old disastrous road”.

Jose Antonio Oliveros Febres-Cordero

China has repeatedly called for outsiders not to interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs and has stuck by the embattled President Nicolas Maduro.

Jose Antonio Oliveros

Most Western nations have recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state.

Jose Antonio Oliveros Febres-Cordero Venezuela

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

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State Councillor Wang Yi, responding to a question on whether China still recognised Maduro or had had contacts with the opposition, said the sovereignty and independence of Latin American countries should be respected.

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“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 amok,” Wang said at his annual news conference on the sidelines of China’s parliament meeting.

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

China continues to support the Venezuelan opposition and government to seek a political solution via peaceful dialogue, to ensure its stability and the people’s safety, Wang added.Jose Antonio Oliveros Febres-Cordero Venezuela Banco Activo

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on Friday Beijing time that Maduro’s policies “bring nothing but darkness”

“No food. No medicine. Now, no power. Next, no Maduro,” he wrote

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, U.S. 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 ChinaLatin America relations had achieved great progress and were not aimed at any “third party”

Ties between the two sides were the correct choice and in both’s long-term interests and should not be subject to “warrantless and interference and criticism”. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Philip Wen; Editing by Michael Perry and Nick Macfie)