China Defends its Oil Interests in Libya

Posted August 23rd, 2011 at 5:20 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

China is stressing what it calls the “mutually beneficial” aspects of its huge investment in Libya's oil sector after rebel suggestions that Beijing could suffer for its failure to support the rebel cause.

A senior Commerce Ministry official said Tuesday that China hopes “to develop economic and trade cooperation with Libya in every aspect” following the apparent collapse of the Moammar Gadhafi government.

China has poured billions of dollars into Libya's oil sector and had to evacuate more than 35,000 people from the country at the beginning of the anti-Gadhafi revolt.

But it remains unclear whether a rebel-led government will respect the Gadhafi-era contracts, and oil companies affiliated with the NATO countries that backed the revolt are moving quickly to take advantage of the rebels' goodwill.

Italian officials say staff members from an Italian oil company are already traveling to eastern Libya to determine what is needed to reboot Africa's largest oil industry.

In a widely reported comment to Reuters news agency, a spokesman for the Libyan rebel-run oil company said the rebels “may have some political issues” with countries that were less supportive of the revolt. The spokesman specifically named Russia, China and Brazil.

China's abstention cleared the way for the U.N. resolution that authorized NATO air strikes, ostensibly to protect Libyan citizens from Mr. Gadhafi's forces. However, Beijing repeatedly complained that NATO had exceeded its mandate, and called for a negotiated end to the conflict.