Statements by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about Beijing’s allegedly "pretended" friendship with the countries of Latin America are slanders that constitute a deliberate provocation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Monday, adding that China strongly opposed such claims.

"The cooperation between China and Latin America is based on the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. It is focused on common development. China has made a significant contribution to the economic development and the improvement of living conditions of peoples of Latin America… State Secretary Pompeo’s statements regarding China’s relations with Latin American countries are baseless slander and deliberate provocation, his statements are meaningless and unfounded. We strongly oppose this," Lu said at a briefing.

The diplomat stressed that China's position on the situation in Venezuela remained unchanged and corresponded to the principles of the UN Charter.

During his visit to Chile last week that aimed to boost opposition to the Venezuelan legitimate authorities in the region, Pompeo said that he considered Russia and China to be "pretended friends" of Latin America, claiming that the two countries "spread disorders" on the continent by cooperating with local leaders in exchange for political and economic influence. 

Russia and China have been among the countries that voiced their support for Nicolas Maduro as Venezuela's only legitimate president after US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido illegally declared himself the country's interim president in January. The United States and many other countries immediately endorsed Guaido and called on Maduro to step down. The Venezuelan president, in turn, accused the United States of trying to orchestrate a coup in order to bring to power Guaido, whom he calls "a US puppet".