An anonymous reader quotes a report from the Washington Post: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro vowed to send “the first Venezuelan man or woman to the moon” in a Chinese spacecraft as part of a new strategic partnership between the two countries, he said Wednesday during a state visit to Beijing. Maduro and Chinese President Xi Jinping, meeting in person for the first time in five years, agreed to boost cooperation in several areas, Maduro said, including oil, trade, finance, mining — and space exploration.
“Very soon, Venezuelan youth will come to prepare as astronauts, here in Chinese schools,” Maduro said, as part of a “new era” of collaboration between China and Venezuela.
After years of drifting away from Beijing, Maduro is strengthening ties with China as he seeks help reviving Venezuela’s crumbling economy and oil industry. Venezuela is also in talks with the United States exploring the possibility of lifting some U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil sector in exchange for Maduro’s promise to hold free and fair presidential elections next year. “Venezuela became the first outside nation to join the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) project, which was jointly announced by China and Russia in 2021,” notes Space.com.
It may be some time before any Venezuelans visit the moon, however. The report notes that Venezuela owes over $15 billion to China at the moment, which will likely impact how much the country would be able to contribute to the China-led ILRS. Venezuela also faces severe economic, political and social crises that have fueled an exodus that has surpassed 7 million.