Venezuela’s near-collapse and strict U.S. sanctions are creating an opportunity for Russia, Iran and China to strengthen their presence in Latin America, a region that for decades has been under U.S. hegemony. While Russia and Iran have, to an extent, gained a foothold in Venezuela by providing crucial support to the embattled Maduro regime, it is China that stands to benefit the most if it can secure a close relationship with the socialist authoritarian regime. Venezuela is endowed with tremendous oil wealth with the pariah South American country possessing the world’s largest petroleum reserves of 304 billion barrels. The growing desperation within Caracas, caused by the petrostate’s near-collapse, has created an opportunity for China to exploit Venezuela’s vast hydrocarbon resources. This could not occur at a more crucial juncture for China with the country overtaking the U.S. to become the world’s largest refiner and the largest importer of crude […]