According to local news, the Industry Minister Emad Hoballah stated on Thursday, June 18th, “There is consensus in the cabinet to go East and we will meet as ministers to draw up a plan for that soon.”
It seems that Lebanon might actually make the shift from the West towards the East to fill the economic gap, a decision that has been looming for months.
Adding to that, it is no secret that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah prefers China’s support over the IMF bailout.
On Tuesday, June 16th, he announced that China is prepared to inject money into the country and invest in key infrastructure projects, such as rebuilding the coastal railway.
He vouched for Beijing, holding that it could offer more funding to Lebanon than the $10 billion IMF bailout.
Conveniently, China was one of the first to help Lebanon in its battle with the pandemic and quickly aided by delivering medical supplies. It also made a donation to the Lebanese army to fight the pandemic.
In May, Lebanese Culture Minister Abbas Mortada and Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon Wang Kejian both signed an agreement “aimed at creating cultural centers in both countries,” reported Xinhua Net, a China’s state-run news agency.
More on establishing cultural exchanges, in his article on why AUB deserves aid from the United States, Washington Post’s foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius held that China will seize the opportunity to make a partnership through the university if the US did not.
However, in its article Is it China’s turn to wield influence over Lebanon?, Arab News reported that “Zhang Jian Wei, the director-general of the Department of West Asia and North Africa at the International Liaison Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, said:
“We do not intend to replace the United States in Lebanon and we do not have the capacity to do so because China is still a developing country. Even if China becomes more developed economically, it will not seek to fill any vacuum in Lebanon.”