China Notes ‘Recent Changes’ in Libya, Says it Hopes to Have an Active Role in Reconstruction
China abstained from the U.N. vote in March which authorized enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, and later condemned airstrikes on Tripoli by allied forces. Now that the regime of Moammar Gaddhafi appears to be have fallen, the Chinese government has acknowledged “noting” political changes in Libya. From the Washington Post:
Spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement on the ministry’s website that China had noted “recent changes in the situation in Libya” and that Beijing respects the choice of the Libyan people.
Ma’s statement made no mention of Gadhafi or the rebels fighting him but said Beijing was ready to work with the international community on rebuilding Libya.
“The Chinese side respects the choice of the Libyan people and hopes the situation in Libya can return to normal as soon as possible,” Ma said. “China is willing to work together with the international community and to play an active role in the future reconstruction of Libya.”
After fighting erupted in Libya in February, China evacuated 35,000 of its citizens working there. Estimates of China’s investments in Libya before the conflict began run as high as $18 billion.
“We have noticed recent changes in the Libyan situation and we respect the Libyan people’s choice,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu when responding to a question on the civil war in Libya.
Earlier, a senior official from the National Transitional Council (NTC) said that opposition forces controlled the entire capital.
“(We) hope that the Libyan situation will stabilize at an early date so that people there can live a normal life,” he said.
Meanwhile, countries around the world are already scrambling to gain access to Libya’s considerable oil wealth, which now is mostly contracted to European companies. China, which evacuated 35,000 workers from Libya when fighting broke out in February, may or may not see a slice of the pie, the New York Times reports:
Even before taking power, the rebels were suggesting that they would remember their friends and foes, and negotiate deals accordingly.
“We don’t have a problem with Western countries like Italians, French and U.K. companies,” Abdeljalil Mayouf, a spokesman for the Libyan rebel oil company Agoco, was quoted as saying by Reuters. “But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil.”
Russia, China and Brazil did not back strong sanctions on the Qaddafi regime, and they generally supported a negotiated settlement to the fighting. All three countries have large oil companies that are seeking deals in Africa for oil reserves.