January 29, 2019 / 9:45 AM / 4 months ago

China says U.S. should bear consequences of Venezuela sanctions

BEIJING (Reuters) - The United States should bear responsibility for the consequences of its sanctions on Venezuela, China said on Tuesday, after Washington imposed sweeping restrictions on Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA.

A vendor holds Venezuelan Bolivar notes and waits for customers at a street stand in Caracas, Venezuela, January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares

The latest U.S. sanctions announced on Monday appear to be aimed at pressuring President Nicolas Maduro to step down and to build on the momentum that has mounted in recent weeks against him at home and abroad.

Juan Guaido, the Venezuelan opposition leader who proclaimed himself interim president last week with U.S. backing, and who is supported by most Western countries, says Maduro stole his re-election and must resign to allow new, fair polls.

China has said it opposes unilateral sanctions.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said historical experience showed foreign interference “only makes situations more complicated”.

“The relevant country’s sanctions on Venezuela will lead to the deterioration of conditions of people’s lives,” Geng told a regular news briefing in Beijing, referring to the United States.

“They should bear responsibility for the serious consequences from this,” he said.

China 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.

But the financing dried up as the South American country’s economy began spiraling downward in 2015, pressured by plummeting oil prices.

The Trump administration had long held off targeting Venezuela’s oil sector for fear that it would hurt U.S. refiners and raise oil prices for Americans. White House officials had also expressed concern about inflicting further hardship on the Venezuelan people.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Robert Birsel

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