When I lived in the Middle East, I often heard a variation of this statement about why regimes there liked China: The Chinese come to do business, and they don't meddle with domestic politics.
Watching the tumult that has toppled several Arab governments this year, I've wondered how those behind the revolutions would view China and its policy of not asking questions of the (now) former regimes.
A Reuters report yesterday suggested there may be a price to come in Libya:
"We don't have a problem with western countries like Italians, French and UK companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil," Abdeljalil Mayouf, information manager at Libyan rebel oil firm AGOCO, told Reuters.
The comment signals the potential for a major setback for Russia, China and Brazil, which opposed tough sanctions on Gaddafi or pressed for more talks, and could mean a loss of billions of dollars worth of oil exploration and construction contracts in the African nation."
An updated piece from Reuters today shows the issue has gotten attention in Beijing:
"China on Tuesday urged Libya to protect its investments and said their oil trade benefited both countries after a Libyan rebel official warned that Chinese oil companies could lose out after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.
'China's investment in Libya, especially its oil investment, is one aspect of mutual economic cooperation between China and Libya, and this cooperation is in the mutual interest of both the people of China and Libya,' the deputy head of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce trade department, Wen Zhongliang, told a news conference."
It's early days yet, but it'll be interesting to see how this plays out.