May 16, 2016 / 9:56 AM / 3 years ago

Asked about aid, China says Venezuela crisis is domestic matter

File photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping preparing to shake hands with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro before their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, September 1, 2015. REUTERS/Parker Song/Pool

BEIJING (Reuters) - An economic crisis in Venezuela is a domestic matter, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday, when asked if the country planned to give aid to the Latin American nation.

The OPEC country, which has received about $50 billion in Chinese financing since 2007, is also struggling with a contracting economy and runaway inflation, following a collapse in oil prices.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has imposed a 60-day state of emergency due to what he called plots by the United States and within his own country to subvert him.

“We hope that Venezuela can properly handle their current domestic situation and safeguard the stability and development of the country,” said Hong Lei, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He declined to comment specifically on the situation in Venezeula, however.

Investors have long hoped China would provide financial relief, or at least ease the terms of a major loan pact by which Venezuela borrows money and repays in shipments of oil and fuel. The Venezuelan opposition won control of the National Assembly in an election in December, propelled by voter anger over product shortages, raging inflation that has annihilated salaries, and rampant violent crime, but the legislature has been routinely undercut by the Supreme Court.

Protests are on the rise and a key poll shows nearly 70 percent of Venezuelans now say Maduro must go this year.

Reporting by Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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