Lebanon’s cash-strapped government is hoping to secure investments from China after facing a worsening economic crisis and with little chance of Western or Arab countries providing assistance.
But help from Beijing risks alienating the United States, which has suggested such a move could come at the cost of Lebanese-US ties, reports AP.
In recent months, the Lebanese pound has lost around 80 percent of its value against the dollar, prices have soared uncontrollably, and much of its middle-class has been plunged into poverty.
“Our move towards China is very serious but we are not turning our back to the West,” a ministerial official told AP.
He said China has offered to help end Lebanon’s decades-long electrical power crisis through its state companies, an offer the government is considering.
In addition, Beijing has offered to build power stations, a tunnel that cuts through the mountains to shorten the trip between Beirut and the eastern Bekaa Valley, and a railway along Lebanon’s coast, according to the official and an economist.
Diab said, without naming any country, that “they are preventing transfers to the country and blocking credit lines to import fuel, diesel, medicine and flour to cut the electricity, starve the Lebanese and make them die without medicine.”
“Trying to blame Lebanon’s economic crisis on US sanctions is misguided and false,” US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in response to the accusations.
Russian Ambassador Alexander Zasypkin told the daily al-Joumhouria that Russia, China, Syria, Iran and Iraq can help Lebanon.