China backs Venezuela, says Constituent Assembly vote 'generally smooth'

BEIJING - Venezuela's close ally China said it believed voting in the country's Constituent Assembly election was "generally held smoothly," brushing off widespread condemnation from the United States, Europe and others and evidence of voting irregularities.
The US government slapped sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro earlier on Monday in response to Sunday's election, which it called a "sham."
Governments from Spain to Canada to Argentina and Peru joined Washington in denouncing the vote, which was boycotted by the opposition and widely seen as an affront to democracy.
Venezuela inflated the turnout figures for its constituent assembly election by at least 1 million votes, the company that provides the country's voting machines said on Wednesday, an accusation the government quickly dismissed as "irresponsible."
But in a statement late on Wednesday, China's Foreign Ministry said it had noted that the elections were "generally held smoothly," though it also noted "the reaction from all relevant sides."
China does not believe in interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, it added.
"We sincerely hope that all sides in Venezuela can orderly resolve the relevant issue with peaceful dialog within a legal framework, and protect the country's stability and socio-economic development," the ministry said.
"China believes that the Venezuelan government and people have the ability to properly handle their internal affairs. A stable developing Venezuela accords with all sides interests."
China and oil-rich Venezuela have a close diplomatic and business relationship, especially in energy.
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