China wary of post-Chavez pivot

March 6, 2013 at 8:35 AM

HONG KONG, March 6 (UPI) -- China has reason to be anxious about energy ties to Venezuela following the death of President Hugo Chavez, an investment analyst said from Hong Kong.

Chavez, 58, died Tuesday in Caracas after a long battle with cancer.

Laban Yu, an analyst with Jefferies Group Inc. in Hong Kong, told Bloomberg News that the post-Chavez administration might move closer to the United States.

"What's uncertain at the moment is whether a new government will maintain its anti-U.S. stance or shift to the opposite," he said. "A shift of political atmosphere could dim Chinese companies' investment perspective in the country very quickly."

China gets about 20 percent of Venezuela's oil output from state-producer Petroleos de Venezuala, known also as PDVSA. Since 2006, Venezuelan oil exports to China have averaged about 518,000 barrels per day.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro took formal power over the Venezuelan government after announcing that Chavez had died Tuesday afternoon. A bus driver turned diplomat, the vice president may open doors to the Western world.

Venezuela is among the world's top oil exporters. Washington in 2011 hit PDVSA with sanctions for working with Iran. As of January, however, the U.S. State Department said Venezuela was among the top four foreign oil suppliers despite recent declines.

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