Crossed flag pin featuring the flags of China and Libya under Gaddafi’s regime
So, as we all know now. China has been caught selling weapons to Libya under the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. But have the two countries always been the best of buddies? Not really, says Brian Spegele of the WSJ’s China Realtime Report:
In recent years, the Libyan regime clashed with the Chinese on everything from the rising power’s inroads into Africa to Col. Gadhafi’s economic and political ties with Taiwan. China, which is scouring the world for resources to feed its economy, saw its crude imports from Libya more than double since 2008. But its state-owned oil companies seemed to lack the needed political capital with the Gadhafi regime to gain significant stakes in crude-oil assets in Libya, home to Africa’s largest proven oil reserves.
In 2006, for example, Libya hosted Taiwan’s then-President Chen Shui-bian, despite loud objections from Beijing. Col. Gadhafi’s son, Saif Gadhafi, himself had visited Taiwan earlier in the year.
Taiwan in 2008 would open a trade office in Tripoli, even as Beijing warned that ties between Taiwan and Libya undermined the Gadhafi government’s relationship with China. Then, in 2009, even as Libya was selling increasing amounts of its oil to China, Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Kusa in an interview with the influential Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper argued that China’s involvement in Africa reached far beyond normal economic cooperation. The anti-imperial rhetoric long a staple of the Gadhafi regime appeared to be targeting China.
“When we look at the reality on the ground we find that there is something akin to a Chinese invasion of the African continent,” the foreign minister said. “This is something that brings to mind the effects that colonialism had on the African continent.”
Also in 2009, the Gadhafi regime blocked the sale of a small Canadian oil company, Verenex Energy Inc., to state-owned China National Petroleum Corp., a significant hiccup in boosting economic ties between the countries.
In related news, China remains the only permanent member of the UN Security Council that does not recognise Libya’s National Transitional Council. This will only happen “when conditions are ripe,” said the Foreign Ministry yesterday without elaborating what those conditions would be:
At a regular news briefing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said: “Our lines of communication with the NTC are smooth.
“I would like to point out that the instability in Libya is temporary, but that China-Libyan friendship is long-term.”
“We value the National Transitional Council’s status and role and are willing to stay in close contact with them to promote the steady development of bilateral relations,” she said.