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What’s at Stake for China in Chad Following the Unexpected Death of President Idriss Deby?

Late Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno greets a crowd of journalists and supporters as he arrives to casts his ballot at a polling station in N'djamena, on April 11, 2021. MARCO LONGARI / AFP

News that Mahamat Kaka, son of late Chadian President Idriss Deby who was killed on Monday in fighting near the Libyan border, has been named interim leader will likely be well received at the headquarters of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) in Beijing.

China’s strategic interests in Chad are almost exclusively focused on oil, specifically the billions of dollars that CNPC has invested over the years to develop Chadian oil fields, build new pipelines, and refining capacity. As of 2018, the company increased its production output in Chad to 4 million tons per year and completed the construction of 310 kilometers of pipelines that transports crude to the CNPC-built N’Djamena refinery.

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