Sunday, August 28, 2011

China, Libya, and Oil: Update

China is positioning the country to engage with the new Libyan government, despite comments from at least one Libyan rebel that China might lose out for not being part of the forces backing the rebels. I doubt that will happen, and I predict that Chinese companies, which had signed some $18 billion in infrastructure contracts, will be actively trying to restart those projects and others. They will succeed in a lot of this. Reconstruction after all the NATO bombing will mean lots of new business.

Here are a few facts on China & Libya from a recent news article. (I also recommend searching for "Libya" on this blog and reading some of the comments.)
...About 75 Chinese companies operated in Libya before the war, involving about 36,000 staff and 50 projects, according to early Chinese media reports. Many of those firms were engaged in building roads, buildings and infrastructure....
...China's top three state oil firms CNPC, Sinopec Group and CNOOC all had engineering projects in Libya, but no oil production yet, company officials said....
"China was unusually quick to support the [National Transitional Council] ...Relative to China's typical foreign policy response, that was quite important, but relative to what Europe and the United States did, that falls short. So I think they will struggle," said Ben Simpfendorfer, managing director of Silk Road Associates, a Hong Kong-based consultancy that specializes in business between China and the Middle East.
China shipped in roughly 150,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Libya last year through Unipec, the trading arm of Asia's top refiner Sinopec Corp that holds the long-term supply contract. That amounted to about one tenth of Libya's crude exports [and about 3 percent of China's].
A hat tip to Stellenbosch University's Center for Chinese Studies.


Anonymous said...

@ prof Brautigam
I see that a comment on one of your earlier posts did disappear...
I totally agree with your decision..

Stuart said...

Now, remind me again why so many laud China's 'pragmatic' approach to despotic regimes #atrocities #Libya

Anonymous said...

Business first, always and at the expense of everyone and everything!

This is really not a difficult guess.
Certainly not days after the Transitional National Council has announced that it will honour all the existing oil contracts.
And also certainly not when you know that China Inc.can always offer the lowest price in this kind of contracts. The reason for this has something to do with why so many Africans mistakenly believe that it are Chinese prisoners who are at work.
The attitude of the Chinese government shows for the umpteenth time that it has no friends (but only business contacts) and against all previous principles (no intervention, no contacts with non-state entities) is only pursuing its own interests.

For the first time, it is possible that within the wave of what we call for convenience, the "Jasmine Revolution", a revolution could succeed.
Whether that will become true, will, among other things be determined by whether the new rulers in Tripoli will permit again 36,000 Chinese workers in their country. A country who had a never before seen such a number of unemployed people! ...
If so, then there is no question of a revolution, and the thousands of unemployed who are now fighting would better have done what the people they so despise are doing, namely collecting scrap metal on the battlefields instead of fighting ...
Business first, you know!

It is time that the Chinese government decides once and for all what it wants in Africa.
What it now wants is the same as in China; stability at all costs. That is good for business, you know again!
But on the one hand China Inc. makes hunderds of deals with the most repressive African dictators, the most corrupt elites, governments against which the African Union has taken economic sanctions because they just came to power by a coup d’état…

On the other hand, this is something that, by definition, excludes any stability!

My guess is also that we will see lots of new win / win deals with China Inc.
But the Libyans will never forget that China was the country that saw their revolution as a brief, but disturbing, intermetzzo in the finalization of their lucrative contracts.
Just as they have not forgotten why more than half (more than 25) of the Chinese contract sites have been attacked, looted and thereby including more than 1,000 Chinese workers who were chased into the desert to walk the more than 1000 km to Tripoli airport to fly back home.
Apart from a South Korean project, at my knowledge no project of another country was attacked ...

Some other views:

Anonymous said...

Only the Western NATO led-countries's facilities were spared. I would appreciate Dan telling us the reasons why, since he/she seems to be the only one able to uncover what is kept concealed.


Anonymous said...

“China; stability at all costs.”

A statement like this suggests some nuances are needed. Is it not true that the US doesn’t want stability at all cost? Is it not true that any American representative does not want stability in his country or for himself? Is it not true that the US is trying to stabilize her country, particularly the currency at all cost (at the expense of the entire world)?

“China Inc. makes hunderds of deals with the most repressive African dictators,”

Is it not true that the US has been dealing with a very repressive country like China, among many others for the last 30 years? Has it been done at all cost? I venture to guess the answer is positive. Incidentally, I really would like to know other sides of the story whatever it is.

“they just came to power by a coup d’état…”

The west has been helping Africa for about 500(?) hundred years. The coup d’états were frequent occurrences in those years. 500 hundred years of coup d’états under her watch is not enough to humble her off the high moral ground is sure beyond me.

Anonymous said...

China in Africa: The Real Story

Is it not true that this blog is called "China in Africa: The Real Story"?
But dont worry, I use the same yardsticks for Western imperialism...

Anonymous said...

Ranting is easy for a person with a computer or a mouth. The relevant criticism is another. Criticism without a context or comparison means basically nothing. An ideal criticism would be done in a perspective of all history and of entire past and the present. As there is no absolute standard even in the western world, everything has to put in context to make sense. Is the situation in Libya a coup d’état? How many repressive regimes the US has kindly dealt with and how many coup d’états have been created by the west in the last 60 years? Focusing on one country is good, but context is worth a lot more.

We are living in a world, in which a perfect theory can only exist and survive in human’s mind, not in a breathing reality. Any one can complain, but it is not helping anyone in the end.

Anonymous said...

China is always a free rider...who will cover the costs to kicking out Gaddafi? 'stability' as a common good that China wants, must be paid for by many people, including the Libyan themselves (painfully so). Free riding is bad for every one.

Anonymous said...


I have also worked in China for many years, my office was in Beijing, but worked all across the country and had high level contacts. Strangely enough through a contact near the Chinese PM, there was a secret meeting in Beijing in about 2006-7, where the wealthiest in world were invited. It was right after this meeting that many African leaders were invited to Beijing.

Anonymous said...


Having worked all across China, I worked with hundreds of professors and senior engineers and directors, whom most live in poverty. The communist system is nothing more then an illusion. Because most of the ministries in China are nothing more then family cartels who wire their monies to Hong Kong. Many professors will openly discuss the corruption as long as no party members are attending the meetings. Sales Agents are used for contracts in China, and most of these agents are family members to ministry officials, they receive large payments from the contracts that are wired to Hong Kong.

Most Chinese people live in poverty, while ministry officials and family members are extremely wealthy. Worked with many, the distribution is bad. Land grabs of course, the home country is over populated.

Anonymous said...

Surely i'm not the only one who sees the correlation between the West's agenda of affecting 'Regime Change' against 'Despotic Leaders' when a nation develops closer ties to China - particularly in the area of Oil / resource supplies.
I'm sure the recent/ongoing Civil War in Libya has destabilised China's Investments considerably.
Forgive me if I don't buy into the 'for the people / democracy' BS while the West was happy to deal with Gaddafi for years & appears to be doing very little for the Libyan people at this stage.
Whilst Oil production appears to be humming along nicely / even Ramping up. I don't see how the West can take the moral High Ground at all either & i'm certainly not convinced the Libyan people are now better off since their 'Liberation'

Anonymous said...

Particularly as the USA appears to have become a pretty oppressive Regime itself & generally appears to concern itself primarily with business & it's own National Interests.
Why else 'Liberate' Islamic Extremists to the detriment of Libyan stability other than to disturb China's / Russia's Foreign Investments?
& protect / further it's own Libyan Assets.

Anonymous said...

This could all be true ...
If there were not a few pesky facts:
1. that China had no investment projects in Libya, but only acted as a contractor
2. that where under Ghadafi China imported only 3% of the Lybian oil, the last months Chinese companies are buying a much higher percentage …