Wednesday, 24 September 2008


Chávez, China Agree to Build Oil Refineries


BEIJING -- China and Venezuela agreed to jointly build two
oil refineries, one in each country, Venezuelan President
Hugo Chávez said Tuesday.

Speaking to journalists on the first day of a two-day
official visit to China, Mr. Chávez said the refinery to be
built in Venezuela will be located in the oil-rich region
of the Orinoco Basin. A formal agreement on the issue is
expected to be signed during Mr. Chávez's stay in China.

China is already building a refinery to process Venezuelan
oil, following an agreement reached this year. Mr. Chávez
didn't provide details on when or where the second Chinese
refinery would be built.

"Venezuela has enough oil to last for 200 years," Mr.
Chávez said. "And the Chinese are already working to tap

He hopes to bolster ties with China through increased oil
sales, partly to reduce dependency on the U.S., which still
buys about 60% of Venezuelan exports despite years of

"China is showing the world that it isn't necessary to harm
anyone to be a great power. They are soldiers of peace," he
said, according to a Venezuelan government statement. Asked
about his absence from talks this week on the sidelines of
the United Nations in New York, Mr. Chávez said: "It's much
more important to be in Beijing than in New York."

China is the second stop in a six-country tour that Mr.
Chávez started in Cuba on Sunday. Mr. Chávez and his
Chinese counterparts are also expected to discuss a joint
$6 billion investment fund the two sides agreed to this
year. He plans to fly Thursday to Russia, and then to go on
to Belarus, France and Portugal.

The trip comes amid stepped-up confrontation with the U.S.,
including Russia's dispatch Monday of a naval squadron to
hold joint maneuvers with Venezuela's navy. The deployment
of Russian military power to the Western Hemisphere is
unprecedented since the Cold War and follows a weeklong
visit to Venezuela by a pair of Russian strategic bombers.

"The only thing we demand is that our nation be respected,"
Mr. Chávez said. "We're no longer the backyard of the
United States."

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