China rushed to evacuate thousands of workers from Libya on Thursday, after CNPC and other Chinese firms were attacked in the wave of unrest sweeping the country. Read the article in Financial Times here:
Officials say 30,000 Chinese are in the country and the scramble to evacuate them—in what may be the country’s largest overseas evacuation ever—is posing a new foreign policy dilemma for China, which has for decades supported the Gaddafi regime.
CNPC, China’s largest oil and gas producer, said on Thursday that its facilities had been attacked and that CNPC employees were being evacuated back to Beijing. The statement is the first confirmation of attacks on oil companies, after oil majors such as Eni of Italy and Repsol YPF shut down their Libyan operations earlier this week.
The violence in Libya poses a new test for China’s foreign policy in the region, which has centred around the concept of non-interference. That policy has become increasingly difficult to maintain as China’s commercial engagement with Africa deepens and Chinese workers decamp by the thousands to build infrastructure projects on the continent.