The Real Reason China Fears Change in Venezuela

April 16, 2019 Updated: April 17, 2019

News Analysis

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is criticizing the United States for its stance on the legitimacy of Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela, and for calling out the CCP for helping destabilize Venezuela.

This was in response to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s speech in Chile on April 12, in which he said: “China and others are being hypocritical in calling for ‘non-intervention’ in Venezuela’s affairs. Their own financial interventions have helped destroy the country.”

CCP foreign affairs spokesperson Lu Kang responded to Pompeo’s speech, stating: “The words and deeds are despicable. But lies are lies, even if you say it a thousand times, they are still lies.”

Yet, as the CCP likely knows, Pompeo’s words were not lies. And this is likely a key reason why the CCP, despite all its criticism of the United States for considering intervention in Venezuela, has itself been intervening.

Venezuela had fallen into one of the CCP’s debt traps, and the lies China was feeding Venezuela to prop up the Maduro regime—when the South American nation would have otherwise been forced to reexamine its policies—made the inevitable fall all the more painful.

“I would like to emphasize how both Russia and China, in the pursuit of their commercial and strategic interests in Venezuela, have provided capital, goods, services, and political backing that has indirectly enabled the populist regime to ignore and ultimately destroy … the mechanisms of democratic accountability,” said Evan Ellis, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, during a 2017 hearing of the House Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Ellis said that Russian and Chinese financial support for Venezuela “have exacerbated the current crisis by prolonging the life of the Venezuelan regime beyond the natural limits created by its poor management and anti-democratic practices.”

China and Russia didn’t keep Venezuela afloat for the sake of Maduro, either. According to Ellis, both countries did this as a way to gain control over key parts of Venezuela’s infrastructure.

As the situation in Venezuela worsens, Ellis said, China and Russia “will exploit the unfolding crisis, including the effect of U.S. sanctions, to deepen their control over Venezuela’s resources, and their leverage over the country as an anti-U.S. political and military partner.”

Despite the CCP’s response to U.S. criticism of Chinese actions in Venezuela—and calls for a change of power to interim President Juan Guaidó—the Trump administration isn’t backing down.

On April 15, the State Department released a fact sheet titled “Nicolas Maduro: Corruption and Chaos in Venezuela,” which detailed Maduro’s unconstitutional acts, corruption, and human rights violations.

The fact sheet included details of how Maduro rigged the 2018 Venezuelan presidential elections, as wells as his acts of money laundering and his sometimes violent suppression of critics and protesters.

It included a March 19 quote from Pompeo: “Maduro usurped power; he’s not the duly elected president. Juan Guaido is the person that the Venezuelan people chose. America and now 54 other nations simply have ratified that, have said, ‘Yep, we recognize that’s what Venezuelans want.'”

During another speech on April 19 in Texas, Pompeo stated that the United States is working to “restore human rights and democracy in Venezuela” and that “I know that we will ultimately be successful and that Mr. Maduro will leave that country.”

What’s key to understanding the CCP’s interests in Venezuela is that this incident is not about Maduro. Rather, it’s about the CCP maintaining financial control over Venezuela—and maintaining the influence of the “China model” in Latin America.

The deal that the CCP brings to the table with its “China model,” when dealing with regimes like that of Maduro, is that these regimes can do whatever they want and the CCP will not hold them accountable. The CCP will continue trading with them, despite U.S. sanctions; the CCP will not criticize them for human rights abuses; it also won’t question underhanded means of seizing power.

If the United States can hold Maduro accountable, however, it will demonstrate that the U.S. model of international relations still holds in the world, regardless of what the CCP has been selling.

This is likely the key reason why Russian and Chinese troops have been photographed in Venezuela as both countries try to prop up the corpse of Venezuelan socialism.

The CCP is criticizing the United States for talk of intervening in Venezuela, at a time when the CCP is itself heavily intervening in Venezuelan affairs. As usual, the CCP’s statements are just surface talking points meant to sway public opinion.

Yet it’s important to understand the CCP’s concepts of military operations, as the regime typically doesn’t use conventional military force. Adopted into its military strategy is the “Three Warfares” doctrine, which consists of psychological warfare, legal warfare, and media warfare. It’s ideological operations.

The CCP likely knows it can’t win the fight over Venezuela through diplomacy, and is hoping instead to win through information. The CCP also likely knows that legacy news outlets will support it on any issue, as long as that issue opposes Trump.

In Venezuela, the CCP is trying to keep the United States at arm’s length using its Three Warfares concept of a war of words, legal arguments, and media control. Its goal in this game of fluff is likely to stop the United States from stronger forms of intervention—which will allow the CCP to continue its established plan to dominate Venezuela.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Joshua Philipp
Joshua Philipp
Joshua Philipp is an award-winning investigative reporter with The Epoch Times and host of EpochTV's "Crossroads" program. He is a recognized expert on unrestricted warfare, asymmetrical hybrid warfare, subversion, and historical perspectives on today’s issues. His 10-plus years of research and investigations on the Chinese Communist Party, subversion, and related topics give him unique insight into the global threat and political landscape.