The Chinese government has offered to help restore power to Venezuela, as the country continues to suffer from the longest and most severe blackout in its history.
At a press conference in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang repeated unsubstantiated claims made by the Maduro regime that the power grid had collapsed as a result of a hacking attack.
“China is deeply concerned about this,” Lu said. “China hopes that the Venezuelan side can discover the reason for this issue as soon as possible and resume normal power supply and social order. China is willing to provide help and technical support to restore Venezuela’s power grid.”
China enjoys a close relationship with the Maduro regime, having provided numerous loans and credit lines in exchange for access to the country’s extensive oil reserves. However, many believe officials in Beijing are concerned about the impact of Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis on their reputation, and as a result have avoided expressing explicit support to Maduro.
Last month, opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who is also Venezuela’s internationally recognized president, urged China to drop its tacit support for Maduro, saying that relations would improve if Venezuela underwent a democratic transition.
“What most suits Russia and China is the country’s stability and a change of government,” he told Reuters. “Maduro does not protect Venezuela, he doesn’t protect anyone’s investments, and he is not a good deal for those countries.”
Maduro and other regime officials have repeatedly blamed the United States and the country’s opposition for the attack, which has wreaked havoc on the already crisis-stricken country.
“The cruel attack that the U.S. empire has carried out against the electrical system has been detected and progressively reversed, thanks to the effort of Venezuelan experts and hackers who are working hard to restore tranquility to People,” he said on Tuesday.
The blackout began last Friday, plunging around 70 percent of the country into darkness and with no access to electricity. Many parts of the country are still without a fully functioning power supply, making it the longest and most severe blackout in Venezuelan history.
The situation that has already sparked considerable civil unrest, with nearly all essential public services closed and dozens of people have died in hospitals because of the lack of power. The situation has also had an impact on the size of political demonstrations, as many people lacking basic necessities have insufficient energy to attend.
“Venezuelans are being completely consumed by the search for the basics,” journalist Domingo Alvarez told Bloomberg. “We are forced to pay for the inaction and mistakes caused by this government. Sadly, protesting is now secondary.”
Follow Ben Kew on Facebook, Twitter at @ben_kew, or email him at email@example.com.