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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid