Aug. 25 – Right after Qaddafi’s army was driven out of Tripoli, China received a warning from Abdeljalil Mayouf, a manager of the rebel-controlled Arabian Gulf Oil Company, that China, Russia and Brazil, in contrast to many Western nations, could face political obstacles in returning to business as usual once Qaddafi had been removed from power.
China, Russia and Brazil, as well as India and South Africa, did not support NATO airstrikes aimed at defeating Qaddafi or providing military aid to the rebels.
After the fall of Qaddafi’s compound in the capital Tripoli, the Chinese government must turn to the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) to preserve its investments in Libya.
“(China) respects the choice of the Libyan people and hopes for a stable transition of power,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement on Wednesday.
“We have always attached significance to the important role of the National Transitional Council in solving Libya’s problems, and maintain contact with it,” Ma said, referring to the main Libyan rebel group fighting Gaddafi’s waning forces in Tripoli. “We hope that the future new government will adopt effective measures, draw together the forces of different factions, and restore social order as quickly as possible.”
The statement from the Foreign Ministry suggests that Beijing has finally chosen a side after six months of struggling to remain against any intervention in Libya, though Beijing has yet to officially recognize the NTC as the new Libyan government.
“China was unusually receptive to the NTC, even going so far as to say it was an important political force in June, but what it didn’t do was provide the support the United States and Europe did,” said Ben Simpfendorfer, managing director of Silk Road Associates, an economic consultancy specializing in China-Arab world ties. “Beijing’s opposition to intervention in favor of the rebels certainly complicates China’s position.”
TNC stated that it would honor all existing contracts, but only after investigating whether corruption was involved in those deals.
However, Chinese analysts remain optimistic about the relationship between China and the future Libyan government because of China’s economic power.
Statistics provided by the Chinese government show that China has become the third largest buyer of Libyan oil. A total of 75 Chinese companies invested in more than 50 projects in Libya worth an estimated US$18.8 billion. Chinese media have reported that most of the investors are state-owned companies.
According to online reports and posts by the Chinese press, some think the rebel TNC is threatening China with abandoning its investments in order to be recognized by Chinese government.
“Western media twisted China’s intention. The reason China opposed NATO airstrikes is not that China wanted to back up Qaddafi. China always adheres to the policy that we should seek for political and peaceful solutions and let Libyan people chose their own future. China provided Libya with humanitarian aid during the six months of war. Criticism by Western media only reveals that the Western countries are yearning to divide Libya’s future,” He Wenping, director of the Institute of West Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told the state-run Global Times.
According to a report on the web site of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China intends to attend the Libya Rebuilding Conference that will be held in France on September 1.