AFRICA: Libya, China and Oil
China Worried About Investments
With the Libyan uprising against strongman Muammar Qaddafi nearing an apparent end, diplomats are meeting in Turkey to discuss the North African nation’s future.
But some rebels are warning members of the international community – like China – who remained bystanders during the Libyan upheaval that there may be financial consequences.
An official at the rebel-run Libyan oil company, AGOCO, warned this week that Russian and Chinese firms could lose out on oil contracts because they failed to back the uprising against Qaddafi, according to reports by Reuters, the Voice of America and others.
China’s Ministry of Commerce urged the new Libyan government to protect its investments, noting the oil trade benefited both countries.
Moscow and Beijing – sensitive to outside criticism of Russian and Chinese civil rights abuses and corruption – generally oppose international intervention in the internal affairs of sovreign countries. Neither country voted for a U.N. resolution to use military force to protect Libyan civilians from attack by Qaddafi loyalists. In fact, oil-dependent China condemned NATO airstrikes authorized by the U.N. and called for ceasefire talks between Qaddafi and the rebels.
China is the world’s second largest consumer nation of petroleum (after the United States) and obtained 3 percent of its crude oil imports from Libya before the civil war.
China has yet to recognize the rebels’ Transitional National Council as the legitimate government, but Beijing reached out to the rebels in recent weeks.
Diplomats from 30 countries including the U.S., European, Western Arab and African nations are meeting in Istanbul, Turkey to discuss Libya’s future — especially the unfreezing of funds to help pay government salaries and rebuilding infrastructure. Another meeting of the Libyan Contact Group is planned for next week in Paris.