By Hadi Fornaji.
Tripoli, 6 August 2013:
China has moved its top diplomat in South Sudan to take over as its new ambassador in Libya.
Li Zhiguo will replace Wang Wangsheng, who has headed China’s diplomatic mission in Tripoli since 2008.
Li originally served as Beijing’s chargé d’affaires in the-then southern Sudan, being promoted to ambassador when South Sudan was established as a separate state in 2011.
One of the main tasks tht Li will inherit here from his predecessor will be the negotiations over the resumption of infrastructure contracts worth billions of dollars that were suspended at the revolution.
This June talks began with the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) on the resumption of its share of the $12 billion 3,170km rail network begun by the Qaddafi regime. A key issue with the Chinese, as with the Russians who were contracted to build a smaller part of the system worth $4.5 billion, is compensation for lost time and equipment and the settlement of outstanding payments.
Moreover, thousands of apartments being built by Chinese companies remain incomplete throughout the country since the contractors withdrew. Chinese diplomats in Libya have been lobbying hard to have these projects re-started but only on the right terms. In May this year China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) signed an agreement in Benghazi to resume work on 20,000 housing units in the Gwarsha and Khadra districts of the city. The issue of compensation was overcome by awarding the Chinese further housing contracts.