After its diplomats abstained in opposition to last week's UN Security Council resolution on Libya response, China state media and bloggers take up debate over Western policy.
A U.S. F-16 pilot returns from mission over Libya (dvidshub)
BEIJING - If one was to believe China's official press and its television and radio outlets, the war in Libya stems only from base economic interests or cold geo-strategic calculations. China Daily has illustrated this point of view by saying that "just as Iraq was attacked because of its oil, Libya is also being attacked for its oil."
For the ultra nationalistic Global Times, the situation is even more serious: "The air attacks are an announcement that the West wants to dominate the world,", because it apparently "still believes down to its very bones that it is the leader of the world." As for the People's Daily, it concludes simply that "the Western political and military intervention in the Middle East is mainly about oil."
Among the Western allies, France is a preferred target. The People's Daily writes that the active role played by President Nicolas Sarkozy on this issue is an indication that, as current president of the G20, he is desperate to show his ability to lead collective actions. The newspaper also hints that the French President could have used the air strikes in Libya to help his party in last weekend's local elections across France.
Unsurprisingly, the official Chinese media do not mention Beijing's inconsistency on the matter, notably its choice to abstain rather than veto the UN resolution. Since China has repeatedly opposed any military intervention based on humanitarian grounds in the past, this may signal a new approach. Where China was concerned, respect for the principle of non-interference and national sovereignty had always carried the day. Some see the subtle shift as a sign of China's new role in world affairs: the country now has no choice but to adopt a more flexible stance and pay more attention to the opinion of Arab or African countries (which supported the creation of a no-fly zone).
The result is a huge gap between, on one hand, an abstention equaling a go-ahead, and on the other hand, a media campaign whose virulence is rooted in the Chinese authorities' extreme mistrust of the spread of "Western" human rights values.
The Global Times has thus denounced the Chinese websites that dared to invoke "the senseless argument that human rights are more important than sovereignty." The most famous Chinese blogger, Han Han, has indeed written that "the refusal to intervene should not stand when dealing with dictators." Sina's micro blogging site has also hosted a number of critical messages, such as that of a user - and forwarded by the writer Zhang Yihe - who notices the fact that "countries that oppose the use of force outside their borders are the same as those most likely to rely on it inside their own borders."
Read the original article in French