Pragmatic China wades into Libya conflict


After months of calls for dialogue in Libya, China has waded into the diplomatic fray, but is courting both sides more to safeguard its interests than to bring an end to the conflict, analysts say. Beijing’s warm welcome to Libya’s foreign minister this week and invitation for the opposition to visit China comes as the West throws its diplomatic and financial support behind the rebels looking to oust Moamer Kadhafi from power. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei has said Beijing is “working along with the international community to resolve the Libyan crisis politically”, but analysts say that its involvement is pragmatic above all. “What matters for China is not who is in power, but how its economic interests are served and its citizens protected,” Jonathan Holslag, a fellow at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies, told AFP. “It reckons that new regimes in developing countries usually require more Chinese economic support and thus do not necessarily undermine its presence.” In just the past week, Beijing has confirmed two meetings with Mustapha Abdul-Jalil, the leader of the opposition National Transitional Council (NTC) — one in Doha, and one in the eastern rebel-held Libyan city of Benghazi.