In an extremely rare Chinese move, a 120-strong group of Chinese military personnel arrived in Venezuela “to deliver humanitarian aid and military supplies to the government forces”, but further details of the Chinese PLA mission have not been disclosed.
Even though vital Chinese interests were at stake in Afghanistan and Syria, China refrained from announcing a military deployment. Unlike Russia, China does not have a history of force projection around the world.
After delivering the humanitarian supplies, the Chinese PLA troops were transferred to a Venezuelan military facility, according to local reports. The Chinese PLA Navy’s hospital ship The Peace Ark had docked at the port in la Guaira, Venezuela, on September 22, 2018.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Venezuela imported $349 million worth of arms from China between 2010 and 2014 alone. In 2017 armoured tanks, ammunition, uniforms and infantry equipment, as well as replacement and service parts for Russian-made pieces, were delivered.
A week ago, some 100 Russian military personnel were deployed to Venezuela to instal a military helicopter training facility.
In a recent report in the LA Times, it was noted that “over the decade ending in 2016, China loaned Venezuela approximately $62 billion, much of which Caracas could repay with oil. Moscow in the last several years gave Venezuela $17 billion in loans and investment, and in December the two governments signed a new deal in which Russia will invest $6 billion in Venezuela’s oil and gold sectors”.
China and Russia are Venezuela’s two main creditors in support of the Maduro government and China’s move put an end to speculation that it was losing faith in President Nicolas Maduro.
On Monday, the Venezuelan Supreme Tribunal of Justice called on the Constituent Assembly to strip opposition leader Juan Guaido of parliamentary immunity, coinciding with the arrival of Chinese soldiers.
Venezuela’s Constituent Assembly also approved a continuation of proceedings against the the self-proclaimed “interim president”. The ruling paves the way for Guaido’s prosecution and possible arrest.
The arrival of Russian military personnel in Venezuela has “caused a nervous reaction in Washington”, the foreign ministry in Moscow noted on March 30 in response to a sharply-worded statement by the US National Security Advisor John Bolton.
Bolton had warned the Kremlin against “deploying military assets to Venezuela, or elsewhere in the Hemisphere,” adding that “such provocative actions as a direct threat to international peace and security in the region”.
Russia’s Chukotka Peninsula is located in the Western Hemisphere, and if Moscow had any intention to establish or expand military operations in the region, it would have already done so.
Washington has let down those in Latin America and Western Europe who unwisely hastened to recognise the impostor Guaido, whom the people of Venezuela had not elected to lead the country.
Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers, as part of a cooperation program, arrived, after delivering humanitarian supplies, to one of Venezuelan military facilities. pic.twitter.com/HwZ9Ee67d0
— Sukhoi Su-57 frazor🇷🇺🇮🇳 (@I30mki) April 1, 2019