Maduro off to China, Vietnam in 'difficult times'

Handout photo released by the Venezuelan Presidency of President Nicolas Maduro (L) waving next to First Lady Cilia Flores (R) during a rally in Caracas on August 28, 2015 (AFP Photo/)

Caracas (AFP) - Venezuela's socialist President Nicolas Maduro will go cap in hand to China and Vietnam at the weekend, with his oil-rich country mired in recession.

Maduro, under pressure to alleviate crippling shortages of even the most basic everyday goods, announced the trip Friday at a rally outside the presidential palace in Caracas.

Venezuela, hard-hit by plunging global oil revenues and reeling from soaring crime, needed heavyweight financial support in "difficult times," he said.

"Tomorrow I will go to Vietnam and China to make arrangements for the economic and financial security of Venezuela," he told supporters, saying he had invitations from Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Vietnamese counterpart President Truong Tan Sang.

To raise badly needed cash, Maduro's government in April secured a $5 billion loan from Beijing, a major political and economic ally.

China -- which is ramping up its presence in South America -- has been a key supporter of Venezuela since Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999.