China Steps Up Condemnation of Libya Airstrikes

China is joined by the other BRIC powers in vocal opposition to airstrikes on Libya, as The New York Times reports:

China’s response to the allied campaign has been the most forceful, with warnings that the assault could bring about a “humanitarian disaster.” In a regular news briefing on Tuesday, Jiang Yu, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, called for an end to hostilities. “We’ve seen reports that the use of armed force is causing civilian casualties, and we oppose the wanton use of armed force leading to more civilian casualties,” she said.

China, long an opponent of foreign military intervention, was one of five countries to abstain from the United Nations resolution that authorized the allied airstrikes against the forces of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, which have been seeking to crush a rebellion against his four-decade rule. Russia, Brazil, India and Germany also abstained, while South Africa joined nine other Security Council members in supporting the resolution approved last week.

In its decision to abstain rather than block the resolution through its veto power, China said it was heeding the wishes of the Arab League and the African Union, which supported the imposition of the no-fly zone.

The airstrikes and recent unrest have severely affected Chinese business interests in the country. From Business Standard:

As allied forces stepped up air strikes to oust Muammar Gaddafi regime in Libya, China has decided to halt all its investments activities in the North African country amid reports that some of its companies may have suffered heavy losses due to the crisis.

China will not make new investments in Libya in the short term until the Libyan situation stabilises, an official with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce was quoted in the official media here as saying.

“Before the situation becomes clear, the exchanges between China and Libya in terms of trade, construction contracts and investment will be seriously affected. I am afraid that China is unlikely to make any new investments there soon,” the official said ….

No official figures have been released yet, but experts predict the losses Chinese companies incur from the Libyan unrest will be big.

China dramatically evacuated some 36,000 citizens from Libya soon after unrest broke out, an operation praised in The Diplomat as “a genuine foreign policy success, and an example of some nimble Chinese diplomacy.”

Key to China’s success was the assistance it secured from Greece and Malta, which was made possible by the close bilateral relations China has with these two nations. For example, when Greece was engulfed by a financial crisis late last year, China didn’t just stand idly by. Instead, Premier Wen Jiabao visited Greece and publicly declared his support for the country, including offering to buy Greek bonds.

Such diplomacy no doubt made it easier for China to utilize two vessels from Greece to make several trips to transport more than 10,000 Chinese workers during the Libyan pullout. Indeed, when these workers reached Crete, the Greek prime minister welcomed them personally.

China’s relations with Malta are also good, helped along by a little personal diplomacy on the part of Chinese President Hu Jintao last year. When Malta’s president had a fall last year during a visit to Shanghai, Hu visited him in hospital before arranging for a new flight, and instructed a Foreign Ministry official to accompany him back to Malta. Maltese President George Abela was said to be extremely grateful to the Chinese government, and Hu personally.

chinaSMACK’s translated comments show mixed reactions to the attacks from Chinese netizens:

网易重庆市网友:

Last time they attacked Iraq it was for oil, what about this time? It can’t be for prostitutes, can it? 5 mao come out and give us an explanation.

网易上海市黄浦区网友:

I think this is justice!

网易北京市网友:

Good attack! Support the Western countries’ military operations!

网易广东省深圳市网友:

Fatty Kim [Kim Jong Il] is frightened silly now.

网易河北省邢台市网友:

Muammar Gaddafi will definitely be the next Saddam Hussein, his family definitely must die. His level of brutality is worse than Iraq and Afghanistan. This kind of person must die. Warn all the dictators in the world that the unjust are doomed to destruction. Despotic governments like North Korea, Cuba, Iran must one by one be annihilated. America, France, and England are the true democratic countries of the world, and I really admire the leaders of these democratic countries. I thank these countries and leaders for the contributions they have made for world democracy.

网易重庆市网友:

France has impressed me this time. In the past, it always really disappointed me.

网易云南省曲靖市网友:

France is such a joke, only knowing how to bully weaker countries. Sarkozy is simply a clown.

March 22, 2011 8:07 PM
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