In spite of a worsening safety situation in Iraq, Chinese
diplomats will step ahead with plans to return to Baghdad, a
Chinese foreign affairs official indicated Friday in
The 13-member group -- composed of seven officials from the
Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Commerce -- will leave
Oman of Jordan for Baghdad "very soon," the official said in a
telephone interview with China Daily.
The group will be protected by armed Chinese police.
The security will protect Chinese diplomats in the city where
consecutive explosions occur almost daily, including the past few
The returning diplomats, headed by 63-year-old Sun Bigan, will
maintain contacts with officials from the Temporary Governing
Council of Iraq, the US-led coalition and the United Nations,
according to the official, who asked not to be identified.
Another important mission of the diplomats is to help for
Chinese companies intending to take part in the reconstruction of
"Effective government coordination is very important for
companies to get a share of the reconstruction market in Iraq,"
said Dong Baoping, a project manager of the Zhongxing Telecom
Equipment (ZTE) Corp, in a telephone interview.
The company, one of China's largest listed telecom equipment
providers, signed a US$5 million contract with Iraq's
ZTE, which has been conducting business in the Middle East for
six years, got the deal through international bidding and will
repair destroyed telecom equipment in Iraq.
Zhang Yuncheng, an expert with the Division of World Economic
Studies with the China Institute of Contemporary International
Relations, told China Daily the Chinese diplomats' return is
good news for Chinese enterprises which have interests in Iraq.
Sources with the Foreign Ministry said China is willing to "make
positive consideration of remitting its debt with Iraq by a large
However, the specific amount involved has not yet been
"Remitting of debt of course has links with the participation of
Chinese enterprises in Iraq's reconstruction," said Zhang.
However, he admitted that Chinese companies still face many
difficulties in getting the chance of a big share of Iraq's
Their most realistic option is to become subcontractors, said
Zhang, noting that many Chinese enterprises are familiar with Iraq
and have experience in projects there.
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing Friday held a telephone
conference call with members of the group who will leave for
Li encouraged them to make efforts to "consolidate traditional
friendships between Chinese and Iraqi people and develop bilateral
(China Daily February 14, 2004)