China on the move for Iraq contracts

14 February 2004 – China’s bid to help Chinese companies win reconstruction contracts in Iraq got underway today with the announcement that an official delegation from Beijing was on its way to Baghdad.

A report in the Chinese news agency Xinhua said the delegation was made up of a 13-member team, led by interim charge d’affaires to Iraq, Sun Bigan, comprises diplomats from the commerce and foreign ministries and six armed Chinese policemen.

The trip is the first by a Chinese delegation to Iraq, since China evacuated its Baghdad embassy three days before the outbreak of war last March. Sun said the re-opened embassy would try to help Chinese companies bid for reconstruction contracts in Iraqi. “After entering Iraq, the mission will seek to develop the traditional friendly relations between the peoples of the two countries and protect the rights and interests of the Chinese in Iraq,” Sun said.

Iraq sources said the Chinese delegation would have talks with the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and UN officials.

Zhongxing Telecom Co (ZTE) last week became the first Chinese company to win a post-war contract deal. Officials said the deal, worth $5m, is for the supply of telecommunications equipment and was concluded after six months of difficult negotiations and “some resistance” on the part of the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority. China was among the permanent UN Security Council members opposed to the invasion of Iraq.