China will recognize Libya's National Transitional Council as the legitimate government "when conditions are ripe," the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, without saying what those conditions would be.
China has not joined Western powers in formally recognizing the NTC as the legitimate authority in Libya, but has acknowledged its "important role" after Muammar Gaddafi's ousting as the rebels swept into Tripoli last month.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said China had been in close contact with the NTC and supports its role in Libya.
"Our lines of communication with the NTC are smooth," she told a regular news briefing.
Jiang added that China would also step up its controls over arms exports after admitting Chinese arms firms held talks with representatives of Gaddafi's beleaguered forces in July over weapons sales.
Libya's new leadership has evidence Gaddafi bought arms this year from sanctions-busting traders in China and Europe, many of them via Algeria, but are split over how far to retaliate against governments which failed to stop it.
China is the world's second-biggest oil consumer and last year obtained 3 percent of its imported crude from Libya.