Chinese authorities have confirmed on Tuesday that the head of the Libyan opposition group, Mahmoud Jibril has visited China.
[Hong Lei, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson]:
“Mahmoud Jibril is visiting China from June 21st until 22nd. Jibril is scheduled to meet Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi during his visit and they will exchange opinions on the situation in Libya.”
The Chinese regime has avoided joining the international community calling for the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to step down, since fighting began earlier this year. It has abstained from the U.N. Security Council vote to allow the use of force.
The Chinese regime has criticized NATO bombing operation and support for the rebels. But recently the Chinese leaders have been meeting with both Gaddafi’s officials and the opposition leader, Mahmoud Jibril.
Openly courting the Libyan rebel leader has analysts wondering about the Chinese regime’s motives. China expert Associate Professor Patrick Chovanec says that the Chinese regime doesn’t want to jeopardize its ties with oil-rich Libya.
[Assoc Prof. Patrick Chovanec, Tsinghua University-Beijing]
“China has interest, primarily economic interests, certainly the eastern part of Libya. That part of the country is under the rebel control… The Chinese don’t want to frozen out of dealing with that government.”
The Chinese regime is accommodating to the situation.
[Assoc Prof. Patrick Chovanec, Tsinghua University-Beijing]:
“Certainly, the prospect of Gaddafi being removed is very strong. So, right now, one of the two major oil areas is controlled by the rebels…The Chinese Communist Party is just accommodating itself to the reality of this situation.”
It could mean collaborating with whoever is in power.
[Assoc Prof. Patrick Chovanec, Tsinghua University-Beijing, China]:
“China’s policy of non-interference can be interpreted in many different ways. One of them would be to say that they simply deal with whoever is in power on the ground.”
Analysts say energy-hungry China is seeking to cultivate good relations—by presenting itself as a friend to whoever is the upcoming Libyan leader.