News / Asia

China Seeks Role in Post-Gadhafi Libya

A paramilitary policeman stands guard at the entrance of the Libyan embassy in Beijing, August 23, 2011
A paramilitary policeman stands guard at the entrance of the Libyan embassy in Beijing, August 23, 2011
William Ide

While China has yet to officially recognize the Transitional National Council [TNC] as Libya’s legitimate government, it has made it clear it wants the United Nations to take the lead in rebuilding the country. Analysts say Beijing’s efforts to play a more active role in post-Gadhafi Libya highlight its increasingly flexible approach to foreign policy and China's desire to protect its national interests.

Unlike France, the United States and other Western countries, China abstained from voting when the United Nations took up the issue of using force to protect civilians in Libya earlier this year.

The stance was not surprising as China has traditionally opposed intervening in what it regards to be the internal affairs of other countries. Put simply - China does not like other countries meddling in its own affairs - be it human rights, Tibet or economic reforms - and it applies that same principle overseas.

What is changing though, analysts say, is China’s willingness to take bolder strides to get involved in international affairs.

Peter Pham, heads up the Africa center at the Atlantic Council - a Washington, D.C., based research group. He notes that while China abstained when the U.N. voted earlier this year - it didn’t oppose the vote either.

“Actually China has demonstrated at least in the situation in Libya remarkable flexibility that even six months ago or earlier one would not have anticipated,” said Pham.

China has been slowly reaching out to Libya’s TNC. In June, it signaled its willingness to engage both sides when Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met the TNC leader Mahmoud Jibril. At the same time, China hosted Gadhafi’s foreign minister in Beijing.

On Wednesday, China’s Foreign Ministry gave its clearest show of support yet when it issued a statement saying it respects the choice of the Libyan people and hopes for a stable transition of power.

One day later, French President Nicolas Sarkozy made a stopover in Beijing and met with Chinese President Hu Jintao. Libya was one of several key topics the two discussed.

China’s Foreign Ministry also has urged Libya to protect its oil interests there. China is the world’s second biggest consumer of oil. Last year, three percent of its oil imports came from Libya.

Pham said China’s foreign policy is increasingly more a reflection of its national interests - not just in terms of access to raw materials, but contracts for state-owned enterprises as well.

“It’s a flexibility we’ve seen certainly demonstrated in Libya, but also previously in Sudan, where for years the Chinese government supported the government in Khartoum, but as the secession of southern Sudan became more apparent, China pivoted very quickly and has established friendly relations with the government in Juba,” said Pham.

Jonathan Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution - a Washington based research group said that with such an approach it is hard to tell if China alienated itself from the opposition in Libya.

“The Chinese are trying to find a way to thread the needle between insisting that they will not intervene in any other countries internal affairs, but then position themselves seemingly almost somewhat in a passive way to walk both sides of the street, and then when the situation resolves itself presumably recognize whatever government authority emerges,” said Pollack.

According to state-media, China is involved in 50 projects in Libya, worth more than $20 billion. The projects range from telecommunications, railway, oil to roads, the construction of buildings and infrastructure projects.

When the uprising began China had to evacuate more than 35,000 workers from Libya. Analysts say that as of June, state-owned enterprises alone incurred as much as $625 million in losses because of the conflict.

Chinese officials have already voiced their concern and hope that Beijing will continue to have opportunities in Libya.

Here’s what Wen Zhongliang, deputy head of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce’s trade department had to say earlier this week at a news conference.

Wen said it is well known that the situation in Libya has affected China's investment activities there. He said China hopes that after there is a return to stability, Libya will continue to protect the interests and rights of Chinese investors.

Libyan opposition leaders have said they will honor all legal contracts that were made by the Gadhafi regime, but some in the opposition have suggested China and Russia could lose out because of their lack of support for the rebels.

The issue of contracts is one of many expected to be on the table next week when members of the TNC attend an international conference in Paris on Libya’s future. China has been invited to attend the conference, as well.

You May Like

Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis Rally Against Racism

PM Netanyahu says he will meet Damas Pakada, the Ethiopia-born Israeli soldier who was filmed being beaten by two policemen More

Ten Migrants Drown in Mediterranean, 4,800 Rescued

All of those rescued are being ferried to Italian ports, with some arriving on Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, and others taken to Sicily and Calabria More

HRW: Saudis Using US Cluster Bombs in Yemen

Human Rights Watch says photographs, video and other evidence have emerged indicating cluster munitions have been used in 'recent weeks' in airstrikes in Houthi stronghold in northern Yemen More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs