China providing Venezuela with powerful military hardware: Reports

Caracas: Although the Venezuelan Navy has not been a top concern for the US Department of Defense, reports have emerged that China is supplying Venezuela with some rather powerful weapons that could shift the balance of power in the region.

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In September 2020, the Venezuelan government under President Nicolas Maduro released some propaganda videos that suggest that its warships have been armed with new Chinese-made anti-ship missiles that can target enemy vessels from over 100 nautical miles away, writes Peter Suciu for The National Interest.

Maduro said that his country is planning to manufacture its own weapons and announced the establishment of a special military and scientific system for that purpose. This comes as his regime has been prevented by international sanctions from buying Western-made arms.

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Therefore, Venezuela has turned to the usual suspects of China, Russia and Iran in a bid to modernise its armed forces, as Beijing has been among the largest purchasers of the country’s crude oil.

In recent times, Venezuela has undertaken efforts to establish its own domestic arms industry.

The propaganda videos, shared on Maduro’s official Twitter account, did not actually feature any Venezuelan warships, rather the footage was from the Thai Navy frigate HTMS Karaburi. The best guess is that Beijing may have supplied the missiles to Caracas, but the platform wasn’t likely installed in time for the commemoration event in September 2020, during which the acquisition was announced

It has also been speculated that the Chinese missiles could eventually be installed on the Venezuelan Navy’s Guaiqueri-class patrol boats, which were built in Spain but delivered without anti-ship missiles, according to The National Interest.

The reports have led to questions on how Caracas will actually pay for the missiles purchased from China, given the country’s ongoing economic problems.

However, Suciu writes that as long as Beijing needs oil, something which Venezuela has in abundance, it is likely military hardware such as the C-802A missiles will continue to flow to the South American country, posing a potential threat to the United States. 

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