EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: China has had relationships with Venezuela and Congo – countries that have experienced severe internal difficulties of late – for dozens of years. In Venezuela, China has chosen not to intervene and has withdrawn its investments. Though Beijing has yet to respond in any significant way in Congo, it can be assumed that it will take a similar approach. It does not appear that the conflicts in Congo, though they are accompanied by some financial risk to China’s economy, will affect Beijing’s overall policy regarding foreign intervention.
China has cooperated and traded with Venezuela and the Democratic Republic of the Congo for decades. Both countries are currently undergoing periods of upheaval.
Chinese-Venezuelan relations strengthened at the end of the 20th century, during the massive increase in fuel consumption by the Chinese growth economy. Commerce between the countries skyrocketed from $500 million in 1999 to around $7.5 billion a decade later. As Venezuela holds the world’s largest proven oil reserves and the Chinese economy needed oil to keep up the rapid pace of its development, that commodity has been the dominant trading product.
Other areas of commerce include military equipment. China’s military industry has sold attack helicopters to the Venezuelan army since 2006, among many other transactions.
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