TOKYO -- China must cut its ties with the Nicolas Maduro government in Venezuela, the president of the Foreign Policy Commission in the country's parliament told the Nikkei on Wednesday.
China is Venezuela's largest investor. According to the China-Latin America Finance Database, developed by the Inter-American Dialogue, China invested more than $67.2 billion in Venezuela from 2007 to 2018. In 2018 alone, the China Development Bank invested $5 billion in developing the country's oil sector.
Francisco Sucre said he and his team have made some informal contacts with the Chinese government. "The answer that we received: They are tired of Maduro and they are worrying about the recovery of the amount [of money]."
Sucre quoted Juan Guaido, the leader of the Popular Will Party who has declared himself to be president, as saying, "China has to turn its back against the dictatorship," given Beijing's heavy investment in the country.
"The only way to recover the amount is with political change in Venezuela," Sucre said. Otherwise "they will never get repaid."
Sucre, known as a close aide to Guaido, said, "Maduro has to go."
After Maduro leaves the country, Sucre said, Venezuela will have a "transitional government and free and fair elections."
He added, "China has to be with the new government of Venezuela, the democratic government."
Maduro was elected in May 2018 in what many analysts say was a "show election."
Sucre also said China "will keep being partners in [Venezuela's] development," stressing that the country's oil sector will need $350 billion worth of investments in the next year to increase production.
Venezuela is facing a severe economic crisis, ravaged by hyperinflation and a lack of supplies. The country's inflation rate in 2018 surpassed 130,000%.
There is also political chaos that began before last year's elections, which were originally set for December. Maduro pulled them forward to April before pushing them back a month.
Despite international criticism of the election, Maduro on Jan. 10 began another term as president.
Guaido claims that the election was not democratic and therefore the result is not legitimate. He declared himself to be president on Jan. 23.
Since then, the U.S., Canada, the European Union, Japan, Australia and other governments have recognized Guaido as a provisional president. And while the U.S. has tightened sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil companies, China and Russia have been supporting Maduro.