February 22, 2019 / 8:34 AM / 4 months ago

China says humanitarian aid should not be forced into Venezuela

BEIJING (Reuters) - Humanitarian aid should not be forced into Venezuela, lest it cause violence, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday, warning that Beijing opposed military intervention in the country.

People wait with their vehicles at a checkpoint set up by Venezuelan security forces in Taguanes, Venezuela, February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro threatened to close the border with Colombia on Thursday as opposition leader Juan Guaido and some 80 lawmakers ran a gauntlet of roadblocks trying to get to the frontier to receive humanitarian aid.

Guaido, who is recognized by dozens of countries as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state, was poised for a showdown with Maduro’s government on Saturday, when the opposition will attempt to bring in food and medicine being stockpiled in neighboring countries.

Maduro denies there is a humanitarian crisis and said on Thursday he was considering closing Venezuela’s key border with Colombia and would close the country’s other main border with Brazil, effectively shutting off any legal land access.

Speaking at a daily news conference, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that the Venezuelan government had “remained calm and exercised restraint”, effectively preventing large-scale clashes.

“If so-called aid material is forced into Venezuela, and then if it causes violence and clashes, it will have serious consequences. This is not something anyone wants to see,” Geng said.

“China opposes military intervention in Venezuela, and opposes any actions causing tensions or even unrest,” he said.

Maduro retains the backing of both Russia and China.

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.

A change of government in Venezuela would favor Russia and China, who are the country’s two main foreign creditors, Guaido told Reuters in an interview last month.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; editing by Darren Schuettler

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