During a June 17 speech eulogizing former Palestinian Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ramadan Shalah and Hezbollah commander Hajj Abu Ali Farhat, Hassan Nasrallah called for a realignment with China in an attempt to end Lebanon’s dependence on western aid during its economic crises.
“I have information that is absolutely definite, if I am not sure about something, I wouldn’t talk about it. Chinese companies are ready to bring in money, and without any of the complications that we talk about in Lebanon. We don’t have to give them money, they will bring money into the country,” Nasrallah stated.
Nasrallah was referring to a series of letters sent by Chinese companies, including one by China Machinery Engineering Company (CMEC), to Lebanese Prime Minister Dr. Hassan Diab.
“As the government of Lebanon will be undertaking Beirut to Bekaa Express Way, Train and Tunnel project in Lebanon, we would like by this letter to express our serious interest to participate in said project as well as any other Railway and Infrastructure Projects,” the CMEC statement read.
Lebanon has been suffering from years of fiscal mismanagement, corruption, political crisis and social unrest – which has factored into the Lebanese pound losing more than half of its value. Other factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Syrian war have contributed to the current crises the country finds itself in.
It is worth noting the newly enacted U.S. Caesar Law, which targets foreign entities who deal with the Assad regime’s military, aviation, gas and oil facilities, could add more instability to Lebanon’s current crisis due to any future business deals with Syria being scuttled due to the threat of U.S. sanctions.
From listening to Nasrallah’s speech, it is evident there is concern about the crises in Lebanon and the pressure campaign the Trump administration is placing on Syria’s allies, chiefly among them, Hezbollah.
“The American administration, the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. State Department, and their representative here, the American Embassy, have banned the dollar from entering Lebanon. This is a first. And second, they are exerting pressure on the Central Bank from supplying the market with what it currently has which could alleviate the problem,” Nasrallah said.
It is uncertain if Lebanon will decide to pivot eastward to obtain needed Chinese investment – or if it will ultimately accept an International Monetary Fund bailout that could have clauses excluding Hezbollah from benefiting from the aid.
Regardless of what Lebanon’s government decides, Nasrallah emphasized to the U.S. and its allies that Hezbollah will not give up its resistance against it and Israel despite the pressure it finds itself under.
Nasrallah said: “Whoever is going to make us choose between being killed by weapons or being killed by starvation, I tell them: We will continue to carry our weapons and we won’t starve; and we will kill you. We will kill you.”