BEIJING: China said today it supported close ally Venezuela and Guyana in resolving border issues, as Caracas proposed a bill to create a Venezuelan province in a disputed oil-rich region.
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has pushed for the creation of a “Guyana Esequiba” province in a region Guyana has administered for over a century, raising tensions between the South American neighbours.
Maduro also said oil, gas and mining licenses for the region must be issued immediately.
Guyanese president Irfaan Ali called Maduro’s statements a “direct threat” against his country, and rejected the measures announced by the Venezuelan leader.
The back-and-forth followed Venezuela holding a controversial non-binding referendum on Sunday on the region’s fate.
It yielded a 95% “yes” vote for Caracas’ plan for Essequibo, or Esequiba as it is known in Venezuela.
Beijing – Venezuela’s main creditor with close ties with the diplomatically isolated, inflation-ravaged socialist nation – stressed today that both countries were “good friends” of China.
“China has always respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
Beijing “has consistently supported Venezuela and Guyana in properly resolving questions about border delineations”, Wang said.
“This accords with the interests of the two countries’ peoples, and is also conducive to stability, cooperation and development in Latin America and the Caribbean region,” he added.