BEIJING (AP) — Beijing fired back at the U.S. on Monday after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized China's role in Venezuela as prolonging the crisis there.
Pompeo's accusations were "unfounded" and "deliberately drove a wedge" between China and Latin America, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular briefing.
"For a long time, the United States has regarded Latin America as its own backyard to pressure, threaten and even subvert political power in other countries at every turn," Lu said, adding that "some American politicians have been harping on one string" in order to "smear China across the world."
Pompeo said last Friday that China's financing of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government helped "precipitate and prolong" the country's crisis. He accused China of investing more than $60 billion of "no strings attached" funds that were used for actions such as crushing pro-democracy activists and bankrolling ineffective social programs.
"I think there's a lesson, a lesson to be learned for all of us: China and others are being hypocritical calling for non-intervention in Venezuela's affairs," Pompeo said. "Their own financial interventions have helped destroy that country."
Hyperinflation, shortages of food and medicine and other hardships have caused more than 3 million Venezuelans — about one-tenth of the population — to flee the country in the last few years.
President Donald Trump's administration, which recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president, has been trying to remove Maduro from power. China, meanwhile, is a close ally of Maduro and has urged other countries to not intervene in Venezuela's affairs.