Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro begins an official visit to China today, the first since 2018, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced.

“At the invitation of President Xi Jinping, President of the Republic of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro is paying an official visit to China from September 8 to 14,” Chinese diplomatic spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a press release.

Beijing maintains good relations with President Maduro, who has been isolated internationally by the West and its allies, and is among the main creditors of Venezuela, whose GDP has shrunk by 80% due to the economic and political crisis and international sanctions.

Venezuela’s Vice President Delsy Rodríguez visited Shanghai and Beijing this week, where she held talks in particular with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

“China and Venezuela have forged an unshakable friendship, and China strongly supports Venezuela in defending its national independence and national dignity,” Mr. Wang said during this meeting.

President Maduro’s visit comes as leaders of the world’s biggest economies head to India for the G20 summit, from which Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to be absent.