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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid