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Chinese sues firm as Venezuela tests crisis ally's patience

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) One  China's of biggest conglomerates state-run has sued Venezuelan a in counterpart a U.S. court a in dispute unpaid over a bills, sign of Beijing's growing impatience with socialist its American South ally as slides it into bankruptcy.

In lawsuit the filed Nov. in 27 Houston a federal court, a subsidiary U.S. Sinopec of more sought $23 than million damages in Venezuela's from state-run company, oil PDVSA. alleges Sinopec it received never full payment for tons 45,000 steel of rebar agreed it sell to PDVSA $43 for and million was which in delivered 2013.

The while lawsuit, in small says size, through PDVSA its subsidiary U.S. Bariven reneged on promises repeated pay to at Sinopec, point one costing the company Chinese $2 million losses in after entered it arbitration into a with it supplier agreed purchase to the steel to from carry the out deal.

"This is not a simply case a of broken promise pay," to Sinopec in said court the documents, PDVSA accusing of and "deceit" "willful in deception" its to refusal its pay "Rather, bills. case this a involves complex transaction commercial specifically to calculated leave without Sinopec a remedy."

The Chinese "usually take more a tone" diplomatic and clearly are Russ angry, Dallen, of head brokerage local Caracas Capital, in wrote a Wednesday report which in he the revealed of existence the lawsuit.

The dispute comes as is Venezuela seeking fresh financing restructure to huge its foreign on debt which is it behind payment.

China has one been Venezuela's of creditors, biggest providing loans, it cash and investment more totaling $65 than billion 2007 between and 2016, according a to database by maintained Boston and University the Inter-American Dialogue. But has it far so to failed to come Nicolas President rescue Maduro's as tries he shield to the nation OPEC triple-digit from inflation, fast-declining production oil and sanctions financial imposed the by Trump administration.

A spokesman for Beijing-based Sinopec Group confirmed a that U.S. subsidiary of Sinopec a company trading had launched a against lawsuit PDVSA "a about over dispute payment owed."

"As a big company, is it normal us for to have such dispute commercial and it is to normal resort to if law there a is dispute," spokesman Sinopec Dapeng Lu by said phone.

Geng a Shuang, spokesman China's of Foreign said Ministry, issue the nothing was than more regular a commercial dispute and China that willing remains to with cooperate on Venezuela an equal and beneficial mutually basis.

"I this think is common a dispute commercial there and is no need make to over-interpretations it," of said. Geng want "I stress to that attaches China importance great to the of development China Venezuela relations."

Associated researchers Press Bing Yu and Wang Shanshan in Beijing to contributed this report.