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China unlikely to cut Venezuela's US oil supplies
Updated: 2005-09-21 07:27

He also noted that U.S. refineries are specially designed to refine heavy Venezuela crude oil, while Chinese refineries "would require an investment of billions of dollars."

Overall, China's investment in Latin America and the Caribbean is small: $8.3 billion at the end of 2004, the Chinese say, compared with more than $300 billion in U.S. investment. But the Chinese portion is growing.

Shapiro said the United States is working to make sure China knows that "rules are important. Because China has investments in Latin America, it should have an interest in the stability of Latin America. We want to ensure that Chinese investors and Chinese exporters compete on a level playing field with U.S. investors and U.S. exporters."

Robert Forden, deputy director for China at the State Department, told the lawmakers there was no evidence that China's increased investment in the region meant it was trying to meddle in Latin America's political affairs.

Instead, he said, the interest is primarily economic: "China is looking at growing economic ties to these countries, opportunities to secure resources that they need to fuel their economic development, opportunities to seek expanded markets for export of their goods."

Rogelio Pardo-Maurer, a deputy assistant defense secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, said that while the United States is seen in the region as "the security partner of choice," China has also ratcheted up its political, economic and military prestige in recent years.

That means, he said, that the United States must "carefully distinguish between legitimate commercial initiatives and the possibility of political or diplomatic efforts to weaken the democratic alliances we have forged."

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