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Last Updated: Friday, 25 August 2006, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
China seals oil deal with Chavez
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez arriving in Beijing
China is looking to Hugo Chavez for more oil
China has secured a major energy deal during a state visit to the country by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Mr Chavez has repeated earlier promises to provide China, his number two customer for oil after the US, with one million barrels of oil per day by 2012.

China's booming economy has huge energy needs and Beijing is concerned about future fuel supplies.

A joint deal to build a new refinery in Venezuela with Chinese technology was also announced.

Frequent flyer

Venezuela currently exports 155,000 barrels per day to China and will increase this to 300,000 by 2007.

Venezuela will expand its own fleet of oil tankers, with nearly half of this capacity being built in Chinese yards.

China is the world's second largest consumer of energy and is engaged in a massive diplomatic push to acquire allies who can keep it supplied. This is Mr Chavez's fourth visit to the country since 1999.

For Mr Chavez, the Chinese connection offers an opportunity to reduce Venezuela's reliance on the US market. He has courted controversy with a high profile campaign against Washington's foreign policy and spices his speeches with anti-US rhetoric.

The US still relies on Venezuela for 12% of its oil imports, but the relationship is frayed.

A huge deal to buy arms from Russia, financed by oil revenues, is the latest of Mr Chavez's attempts to underline his independence from his powerful neighbour in the north.

Mr Chavez used the trip to hail what he calls a "strategic alliance" between China and Venezuela that will meet Beijing's energy needs "today, tomorrow and always".




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