U.S.; China has provided military aid and training to Venezuela

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Friday, May 5, 2006 China is expanding military and economic connections in Latin America, including countries that are barred by a U.S. law from receiving military training and aid from the U.S. itself.

"China's profile in the region has been ratcheting up sharply," said Thomas Shannon, assistant secretary of State.

U.S. Gen. Bantz Craddock, head of U.S. Southern Command, advised the House Armed Services Committee that China's military is increasing its involvement, "offering resources to cash-strapped militaries and security forces with no strings attached."

According to Jose Ruiz, a spokesman for Southern Command, China has participated in exchanges of senior defense officials with Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile and has provided military aid and training to Jamaica and Venezuela.

Further, as reported by Jane's Defense Weekly, Caracas may be close to finalizing a deal with China to procure a new Chinese national defense communications network. The network is a satellite based system, incorporating strong encryption and other security measures.