Tripoli, March 7:
Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said on Wednesday that Libya must compensate Chinese companies for losses as a . . .[restrict]result of last year’s revolution.
Stating that China had international law on its side, he said that his county required the Libyan authorities to deal with the matter and compensate firms that had been working in Libya.
Speaking at a press conference during the annual session of China’s parliament, Demings did not put a figure on how much he wanted Libya to pay, but did speak of civil housing projects worth over $10 billion.
He claimed that Chinese-built projects, most already completed or close to completion, had come under attack during the conflict and were heavily damaged.
According to Libyan officials, there are 100,000 apartments that were being built by the Chinese and now standing unfinished. It is estimated that they were 60-percent completed when, shortly after the revolution started, China evacuated it 35,000 construction workers and engineers working in Libya.
There are no signs of serious damage — indeed any damage — to most of the buildings.
Chinese contracts in Libya have been independently put at more than $7 billion. The three railway projects undertaken by China Railway Construction Corporation alone were worth over $4 billion.
Chen reported that a team from his ministry had visited Tripoli last month to assess the possibility of restarting work but had decided the situation was not safe enough. He indicated they would return if the security situation improved.
In fact during the team’s visit there were anti-Chinese protests in Tripoli outside the Chinese embassy over Beijing’s support at the UN for the Assad regime in Syria.
The NTC had originally said that all foreign contracts signed by the Qaddafi regime would be honoured but has since said that they would be re-investigated to see if there had been any corruption involved. It has also said that new contracts would not go to companies from countries that had not supported the revolution — which, in this case, would seem to bar China.
This, plus its present unpopularity in Libya over its Syria policy, may have prompted Beijing to decide that there was little chance of it getting back into the market in the foreseeable future.
Demands for compensation are usually a last resort. This one, which risks making China even more unpopular in Libya, appears to confirm Beijing’s acceptance that it has lost the Libyan market. [/restrict]