Libya Unrest Tests China’s Interests in the Middle East

With China’s shifting and increasingly prominent role in Africa and the , the country is learning how to deal with crisis when it hits outside its borders. From the Christian Science Monitor:

According to Chinese Ministry of Commerce figures, 36,000 Chinese nationals work for 75 Chinese companies in . Approximately 3,000 to 4,000 are thought to remain. Another 20,000 Chinese work on projects in nearby Algeria.

Many are working in oil and gas fields: The three big state-owned Chinese oil companies all have projects in Libya. Tens of thousands of others are building railroads, power plants, airports, cement factories, apartment blocks, and official buildings.

In crises, this poses a human security problem for the Chinese authorities that they have not faced before. “They will learn how to deal with that,” says David Zweig, a professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s Centre for Chinese Transnational Relations. “States that go out into the world as China is doing have to learn.”

The wave of unrest sweeping the Middle East is unlikely to pose a longer-term threat to Chinese interests, though, analysts predict. It could even offer a few opportunities.

March 2, 2011 1:14 PM
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