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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 March 2007, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Venezuela aims for China oil deal
Hugo Chavez visiting a Venezuelan oil facility
Hugo Chavez wants to move Venezuela away from US influence
Venezuela says it is working on a number of new oil deals with China, as it aims to reduce its dependence upon crude exports to the US.

The left-wing Venezuelan government said it would work with China National Petroleum Corporation to boost Chinese investment in its oil facilities.

It added that there were also joint plans to build a fleet of new tanker ships and three refineries in China.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has long spoken of his hostility to the US.

'US declining'

His increasingly fraught relationship with America comes as he is pushing ahead with a nationalisation of Venezuela's oil industry.

Such a move would strip major US companies such as Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips and Chevron of their majority stakes in Venezuelan oil projects.

"The United States as a power is on the way down, China is on the way up. China is the market of the future," said Mr Chavez after the Chinese investment announcement.

China's breakneck economic growth of recent years means it is today the world's second-biggest oil consumer after the US.

Venezuela is the world's eighth largest oil exporter.

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