Sun, Apr 14, 2019 - Page 5 News List

China, Russia ‘spread disorder’ in Latin America

‘A LESSON’:China’s trade activities are often deeply connected to its national security mission and its desire to steal technology, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday blamed China and Russia for spreading “disorder” in Latin America by funding failing development projects and supporting leaders such as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who the US insists must step down from power.

Pompeo, speaking in Chile at the start of a three-day South American tour, said that Beijing and Moscow have fueled corruption, and sought to undermine democracy across the region.

He cited a failing dam project in Ecuador, Chinese loans to the Maduro regime, as well as that of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, and support for police training programs in Nicaragua.

When China does business in Latin America, “it often injects corrosive capital into the economic bloodstream, giving life to corruption and eroding good governance,” Pompeo said.

Along with Russia, the two countries come to the region to “spread disorder,” he added.

“China’s bankrolling of the Maduro regime helped precipitate and prolong the crisis in that country,” Pompeo said, adding that China invested more than US$60 billion in the country “with no strings attached.”

“It’s no surprise that Maduro used the money to use for tasks like paying off cronies, crushing pro-democracy activists and funding ineffective social programs,” he said.

“I think there’s a lesson, a lesson to be learned for all of us: China and others are being hypocritical calling for nonintervention in Venezuela’s affairs. Their own financial interventions have helped destroy that country,” he added.

Pompeo said China is a major US trading partner, but that its “trade activities often are deeply connected to their national security mission, their technological goals, their desire to steal intellectual property, to have forced technology transfer, to engage in activity that is not economic.”

He also criticized Russia’s links with leaders in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

“Flying in troops and opening a training center in Venezuela are obvious provocations,” he said. “We shouldn’t stand for Russia escalating an already very precarious situation in that country.”

The top US diplomat is in the region to sustain support for efforts to force Maduro from power.

Earlier on Friday, he met with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and is today to continue on to Paraguay, Peru and a Colombian town on the border with Venezuela.

In Peru, Pompeo said that he would convene a meeting to focus on the healthcare needs of Venezuelan refugees, who have settled across the region as humanitarian conditions in their home country, which has some of the world’s largest oil reserves, worsen.

As part of the broader pressure campaign on Maduro, Pompeo said that the US has revoked visas for 718 people and sanctioned more than 150 individuals and entities.

On Friday, the US sanctioned four companies that it said transport much of the 50,000 barrels of oil that Venezuela provides to Cuba each day.

Additional reporting by AP

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