China recognizes NTC as Libya's ruling authority

AP News
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Posted: Sep 12, 2011 11:15 AM
China recognizes NTC as Libya's ruling authority

China became the last major power Monday to recognize the National Transition Council as the ruling body of Libya in the wake of the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi.

China, a large investor in Libya which has been linked to possible military sales to Gadhafi that would violate a U.N. arms embargo, said it "respects the choice of the Libyan people."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said China attaches great importance to the role of the NTC and has been in close contact with it.

China is the last member of the U.N. Security Council to recognize the NTC. China had previously criticized the NATO-led air campaign against Gadhafi's forces and refused to condemn the dictator. It is a big investor in Libya, with 26 Chinese companies taking on an estimated $20 billion in business.

Ma said in a statement that China hopes that all treaties and agreements signed with Libya will remain in effect and implemented in earnest.

It was unclear whether China's delay in recognizing the NTC, or the revelation earlier this month that Chinese arms makers had been in talks with Gadhafi's representatives in July to sell military supplies, would affect the nascent ties.

China has confirmed the talks, first reported in Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper, but said no deals were signed and no arms were shipped. There is no indication the Chinese government played a role in the contacts with the weapons makers.

China sent only a vice foreign minister to a conference in Paris earlier this month aimed at mapping out Libya's future, while other countries sent more senior representatives and even heads of government, such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The Libyan opposition which ousted Gadhafi says there is evidence that Chinese companies shipped weapons through Algeria to Gadhafi's forces after the outbreak of the uprising in violation of the U.N. embargo.

Chinese companies were major investors in Libyan infrastructure prior to the start of the conflict in mid-February. Many of China's projects in Libya were only half-completed and no estimates have been made of the losses, given the scale of the fighting and widespread looting.