BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) – China is obstructing the release of Libya’s frozen assets, the head of Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) Mustafa Abdel Jalil said in a news conference yesterday.
“China is obstructing the release of Libya’s frozen assets,” said Abdel Jalil, adding that Libyan rebel leader Mahmoud Jibril had earlier met with a representative of the Chinese government to further understand this “unexpected position”.
It was not immediately clear what the precise complaint to Beijing was. China has not joined Western powers in formally recognising the NTC as the legitimate authority in Libya, but it has acknowledged its “important role” in the country following the overthrow last week of Muammar Gaddafi.
An NTC spokesman accused China of bargaining hard to protect interests in Libya, developed during Gaddafi’s rule.
Spokesman Shamsiddin Abdulmolah said that while China had agreed with other international powers on Thursday to the unfreezing of $15 billion of Libyan assets abroad, it was opposed to handing control of more to the interim ruling council.
“China is objecting to the unfreezing of all of the money but has approved of the $15 billion that is needed immediately,” he said. “I’m sure they are going to use their veto card to make sure that their interests here in Libya are secure.”