Executive Intelligence Review


Libya Anxious To Join the Belt and Road, Wants Chinese Firms To Return

April 18, 2018 (EIRNS)—In an April 16 meeting with Wang Qimin, Chinese Embassy chargé d’affaires in Tripoli, Libya’s UN-backed Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed M’etig said that his government was very anxious to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

China, he said, “is a country with great and important political and economic weight in the world,” and stressed the importance of developing bilateral relations in a variety of fields, including the return of Chinese companies to complete “suspended projects.”

Libya is willing to provide security for those companies, M’etig said, explaining that joining the BRI is the best way to develop the national economy and rebuild the country. Wang stressed that the return of Chinese companies is obviously linked to the country’s security, but that China will encourage its companies to return as soon as the security situation stabilizes.

Restarting those “suspended projects” is crucial for Libya’s future. As reported in EIR’s report “Extending the New Silk Road to West Asia and Africa: A Vision of an Economic Renaissance,” both China and Russia were deeply involved in key railroad infrastructure projects in Libya, up until the time of the March 2011 NATO-led war against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, and his subsequent murder in October 2011. In the early 2000s, the Libyan government began building new railways connecting the country’s east with the west, along the Mediterranean coast, for a total planned length of 3,200 km, all with standard gauge. This was part of the North Africa railway link.

In March 2011, there were simultaneous several projects underway by Chinese and Russian companies. In 2008, China’s Railway Construction Corp. (CRCC) had begun building a new, double-track 352 km railway line from Al-Khoms near Tripoli in the west to Sirte in the middle of Libya’s coast, scheduled for completion in 2013. CRCC was also contracted to build another 172 km railway, construction on which began in 2009. In 2008, Russian Railways (RZD) began building a 554 km double-track rail line between Sirte and Benghazi, with a completion date of 2013, and plans were made for another rail line going farther east to Tobruk, near the Egyptian border. Thanks to NATO’s murderous intervention, all these projects had to be halted. Now, the Belt and Road provides hope that they can be restarted.