Lebanon has turned east, seeking to secure investments from China in a bid to overcome its financial crisis, the Associated Press reported.
The agency said in a report published yesterday that Lebanon which has long been a site where rivalries between Iran and Saudi Arabia have played out, is now becoming a focus of escalating tensions between China and the West.
According to the report, the government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab is currently seeking help from China after talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout have faltered, and international donors have refused to pay $11 billion pledged in 2018, pending major economic reforms and anti-corruption measures.
The agency quoted an unnamed ministerial official as saying that China has offered to help end Lebanon's decades-long electricity crisis through its state companies, an offer the government is considering.
AP reported: "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."
Economist Hasan Moukalled said the projects that China has offered to work on are worth $12.5 billion.