Beijing switches its allegiance to major oil supplier's rebel council


CHINA'S VIEW:CHINA HAS called for “a stable transition of power” in Libya and said it had made contact with the rebels there, a sign it has switched allegiances from Muammar Gadafy in a bid to ensure the flow of oil from Libya is not jeopardised.

China’s foreign ministry said the country “respected the choice of the Libyan people”. “We have always attached significance to the important role of the National Transitional Council in solving Libya’s problems, and maintain contact with it,” a ministry spokesman said in a statement on the website.

While Beijing backed Col Gadafy initially – as an authoritarian government itself, Beijing is not quick to call for the demise of other such regimes – it had also been stepping up engagement with Libyan rebel leaders in recent months, saying the meetings were an attempt to encourage a negotiated end to the six-month-old war.

China is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and while it did not use its veto to block a resolution authorising North Atlantic Treaty Organisation airstrikes against Col Gadafy’s forces, it did call for a peaceful solution, and regularly condemned the strikes.

China routinely opposes any forms of intervention in other sovereign nations’ domestic affairs, even on humanitarian grounds. Enormous pressure had to be placed on China to impose sanctions on its ally North Korea, for example, after it tested a nuclear device and caused widespread fear in Asia.

China tends to avoid taking a moral stance on governments that supply it with raw materials, such as Sudan. Libya supplies around three per cent of China’s oil.

Last year, China shipped 150,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Libya through Unipec, the trading arm of Asia’s top refiner Sinopec, which amounts to about one tenth of Libya’s crude exports.