Lebanon looks to China as US, Arabs refuse to help in crisis – By Bassem Mroue (AP News) / July 15 2020
BEIRUT (AP) — Facing a worsening economic crisis and with little chance of Western or oil-rich Arab countries providing assistance without substantial reforms, Lebanon’s cash-strapped government is looking east, hoping to secure investments from China that could bring relief.
But help from Beijing risks alienating the United States, which has suggested such a move could come at the cost of Lebanese-U.S. ties.
A tiny nation of 5 million on a strategic Mediterranean crossroads between Asia and Europe, Lebanon has long been a site where rivalries between Iran and Saudi Arabia have played out. Now, it’s becoming a focus of escalating tensions between China and the West.
In recent months, the Lebanese pound has lost around 80% of its value against the dollar, prices have soared uncontrollably, and much of its middle class has been plunged into poverty. Talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout have faltered, and international donors have refused to unlock $11 billion pledged in 2018, pending major economic reforms and anti-corruption measures.
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