Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces have continued to pound rebel forces across various cities including Ajdabiyah and Misrata.
Al Jazeera reported that rebel-fighters claimed that they have captured Ajdabiyah. However pro-government forces have been battering the eastern side of the town.
While the Libyan inferno continues to elicit China's muted response, punctuated by its anti-NATO stand, the issue has, however, evoked multiple questions about its underlying motivation.
China joined other BRIC nations India and Russia to signal its opposition towards imposing a no-fly zone over Libya. Bloomberg quoted Chinese ambassador to the UN, Li Baodong who told reporters in New York: We believe that this political crisis should be resolved through peaceful means such as dialogue. We respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Libya.
At the heart of China's support for Gaddafi's regime is its oil interest in the North African nation, a fact which was buttressed when China evacuated thousands of workers from Libya after oil establishments held by CNPC and other Chinese firms where attacked by Libyan rebels.
FT reported officials claim that there are about 30,000 Chinese in Libya.
AL Jazeera reported that China runs about 50 large-scale projects in Libya. According to Beijing's Ministry of Commerce, these projects are valued at about $18 billion. Infowars reported that as a result of unrest in North African region, China's foreign contracted projects have fallen to 53.3 percent.
Seventy percent of Libya's GDP is connected to oil with about 44 billion barrels of oil reserves or 80 percent of Libya's oil reserves being in the Sirte basin. Libya becomes a strategic location for China even though its current investments according to Al Jazeera are not as sizeable as its outlay in Angola and Zambia.
China Daily reported that the Libyan conflict will not affect Chinese oil firms, as the decreasing asset valuation of Libya's oil assets due to the conflict will open new buying opportunities. Ade Ayeyemi, head of the Africa Division of Citibank's Global Transaction Services, said: The problem is only in Libya. Whatever the resolution of the political unrest is, we remain confident that Chinese assets and interests will not be affected in Africa.
Al Jazzera reported that three days prior to BRIC nations' abstaining from voting at the UN Security Council Resolution 1973, Gaddafi met with the ambassadors of BRIC members China, Russia and India, and told them, according to the JANA news agency: We are ready to bring Chinese and Indian companies to replace Western ones.
According to China SignPost, when China recently evacuated its citizens from Libya, the movement saw PLA ships and aircrafts pass through U.S. Central Commands area (CENTCOM) of responsibility suggesting that contact between U.S. and Chinese militaries are due to increase further. Chinese interests are no longer merely limited to movement of oil tankers within CENTCOM's area of responsibility but Chinese organizations like CNPC are involved in developing oilfields and mines across these regions.
Infowars quotes a study by AFRICOM, created by Bush administration in 2007, which predicts that China will certainly despatch troops in Africa to guard its economic interest: Now China has achieved a stage of economic development which requires endless supplies of African raw materials and has started to develop the capacity to exercise influence in most corners of the globe. The extrapolation of history predicts that distrust and uncertainty will inevitably lead the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to Africa in staggering numbers...
In the light of these developments, NATO's presence in Libya can be seen by China as Western efforts to avail Libyan oil resources. Thus, China's stance and NATO's aggressive posture could be shaping into a commodities-driven diplomatic cold war.