Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has expressed his anticipation of sending the first Venezuelan astronauts to the moon aboard a Chinese spacecraft, following a significant scientific cooperation agreement with President Xi Jinping. Maduro's visit to Beijing, following a tour of Chinese cities, including Shanghai, culminated in a meeting with Xi and an agreement to enhance bilateral ties.
During their Wednesday meeting, Maduro announced that China and Venezuela had agreed to train young Venezuelan astronauts in China with the future goal of lunar exploration. Maduro stated, "In the not-so-distant future, a specialised team focused on scientific, technological, industrial, and aerospace collaboration will facilitate the journey of the first Venezuelan man and woman to the Moon using a Chinese spacecraft." He added, "Soon, Venezuelan youth will arrive here to prepare as astronauts in Chinese educational institutions."
Maduro took to social media on Thursday to emphasise their lunar ambitions, asserting, "Our destination is the moon, embarking on a splendid era for both China and Venezuela." He declared the partnership between the two nations "unbreakable and strategically significant for all time." Concluding his trip, Maduro described the current phase as "a remarkable period marked by economic, cultural, educational, civilizational, and scientific achievements."
In the agreement signed on Wednesday, both nations reaffirmed their status as close friends with mutual trust, cooperative partners in development, and strategic collaborators. Additionally, it highlighted Venezuela's interest in joining the BRICS group of major emerging economies, which convened its recent summit in Johannesburg and announced the inclusion of six new member countries, including Argentina.
China, a key creditor to Venezuela, maintains strong ties with the internationally isolated yet resource-rich Maduro government. However, Venezuela has faced a severe economic crisis, with an 80 percent decline in GDP over a decade, leading to significant challenges for its citizens and a substantial emigration of its population.