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Chinese Postscript To Egyptian Death Sentence

BEIJING – There was an interesting Chinese twist to last week's ruling by an Egyptian court to sentence 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death. While the decision was widely condemned in the West, it has also drawn criticism from an unusual source: China’s state-backed media.

Xinhua News English edition featured a story entitled News Analysis: Egypt's mass death sentences raise human right concerns. Xinhua quoted Mohamed Zarie, an Egyptian lawyer and human rights activist, as saying, "It took only three days for the court to decide to execute over 500 humans, raising questions about human rights in general and justice in particular, which is one of the most important pillars of the state… it is catastrophic if the judiciary gets involved in political disputes."

Chinese-language sources also denounced the Egyptian move. Xinhua reports “The United Nations Expresses Shock about Hundreds of People Sentenced to Death in Egypt.” QQ News featured the following headline: “The U.N Calls Egypt’s Death Sentence of Hundreds of People a Violation of International Human Rights Law”.

The coverage is notable because international human rights campaigns, which in the past have included criticisms of Beijing, are often mocked by China's state media. Moreover, the Chinese government itself is widely believed to carry out more death sentences than the rest of the world combined.

Some however have pointed out recent reforms to limit the number of crimes punishable by the death penalty in China, and reduce political interference in the judicial process. Could the finger-wagging abroad be a sign of something changing at home?

-Brendan O’Reilly, a writer and educator based in China, specialized in Chinese foreign policy. He is the author of 50 Things You Didn’t Know About China (Alchemy Books, upcoming). He blogs at chineserelations.net

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Geopolitics

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with the Emir of Qatar in June 2022 in Cairo

Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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