China Tells France Force Won’t Work In Libya

When France, the U.S., and NATO decided to undertake action against Gaddafi in Libya, China was quick to express first disapproval and then criticism. (Read more about China’s condemnation of Libya airstrikes.) Now China seems even more determined to dissuade allies from further action in Libya. From Time Magazine:

Chinese President Hu Jintao admonished French President Nicolas Sarkozy over the Western bombing campaign in Libya on Wednesday, saying force will not resolve the conflict in the North African country.

The lengthy statement in unusually strong language for a diplomatic meeting was a further display of China’s pique at what it sees as an overly broad use by Western countries of U.N. Security Council authorization to protect Libyan civilians rebelling against leader Moammar Gadhafi.

“If the military action brings disaster to innocent civilians, resulting in an even greater humanitarian crisis, then that is contrary to the original intention of the Security Council resolution,” Hu told Sarkozy in remarks carried by Chinese state media.

Hu called for an immediate cease-fire, expressed Beijing’s concern that Libya may end up divided and said force would complicate a negotiated settlement. China, Hu said, “is not in favor of the use of force in international affairs.”

In fact, the Libya situation seems to be Beijing’s opportunity to strengthen its anti-Western propaganda. From MSNBC.com:

A plot to seize Libya’s oil. A warning to the world that the West will cling to dominance. A flagrant display of hypocrisy over human rights.

China’s ruling Communist Party has countered the West’s air strikes against Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi with a torrent of such criticisms in state-run newspapers and television, mounting a propaganda campaign to deter the public from any temptation to copy Arab insurrections against authoritarian rulers.

Beijing’s opposition to the Western attacks in Libya reflects its longstanding opposition to intervening in other countries’ internal conflicts, especially in the name of human rights. But the Chinese media condemnation is also driven by domestic political currents, said Li, the former editor.

China may fear that “averting humanitarian disaster,” which was President Obama’s justification for American military intervention in Libya, will one day cause Western powers to come knocking on China’s doors.

March 30, 2011, 4:49 PM
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