Members of a special commission established by Juan Guaido, self-proclaimed interim president of Venezuela, held meetings with representatives of the Chinese government to discuss cooperation, local media reported on Wednesday, citing sources.

According to Venezuelan newspaper Nacional, the meetings were held in Washington, DC, under mediation of Carlos Vecchio, Guaido’s envoy to the United States. The Venezuelan opposition reportedly hopes to continue contacts with China in order to discuss cooperation, including China's investment into Venezuelan oil industry.

Geng Shuang, the spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said in late January that China would continue developing its cooperation with Venezuela in different fields, condemning Washington's sanctions against Venezuelan energy sector. In particular, the spokesman stressed that the United States will have to bear responsibility for consequences of its sanctions that will lead to lower living standards of Venezuelans.

Tensions in Venezuela escalated in January, when Guaido, the head of the opposition-led parliament, declared himself interim president, disputing President Nicolas Maduro's re-election. Guaido's declaration was almost immediately recognized by the United States and some of its allies. EU states were expected to issue a joint statement recognizing Guaido, but Italy vetoed the motion. 

Russia, along with China, Mexico, Turkey, Iran Uruguay and several other states, has voiced support for Maduro as the legitimate and constitutionally elected president of Venezuela.

The US State Department announced in January that Washington had frozen $7 billion in assets belonging to PDVSA in order to make some of the money available to Venezuela's self-proclaimed acting president, Juan Guaido.

Maduro has accused Guaido of acting at the instructions of the United States and claimed that Washington was plotting together with the opponents of his government to overthrow him and get hold of Venezuela’s oil assets.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Venezuela had difficulty shipping its oil after the latest US sanctions, with oil output dropping and oil tankers lining up while the government was looking for buyers. However, Ronny Romero, technical adviser at PDVSA and Petroleum Ministry, and Venezuela’s National Representative to OPEC, has told Sputnik that "until now the sanctions apply to US entities", stressing that Caracas intends to redirect its oil exports to Europe and Asia due to "illegal" US sanctions. 

In an interview with Sputnik in January, Maduro said that his country's economy was "at the stage of critical revival". He also thanked Russia for assistance, citing mutual plans to develop cooperation in all areas, including "in the economy, trade, oil and gas, military affairs".