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Libya: Chinese State Media Slams West Over Strikes, Though Some Bloggers Dissent

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."

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Economy

In Uganda, Having A "Rolex" Is About Not Going Hungry

Experts fear the higher food prices resulting from the conflict in Ukraine could jeopardize the health of many Ugandans. Take a look at this ritzy-named simple dish.

Zziwa Fred, a street vendor who runs two fast-food businesses in central Uganda, rolls a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex.

Nakisanze Segawa

WAKISO — Godfrey Kizito takes a break from his busy shoe repair shop every day so he can enjoy his favorite snack, a vegetable and egg omelet rolled in a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex. But for the past few weeks, this daily ritual has given him neither the satisfaction nor the sustenance he is used to consuming. Kizito says this much-needed staple has shrunk in size.

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Most streets and markets in Uganda have at least one vendor firing up a hot plate ready to cook the Rolex, short for rolled eggs — which usually comes with tomatoes, cabbage and onion and is priced anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 Ugandan shillings (28 to 57 cents). Street vendor Farouk Kiyaga says many of his customers share Kizito’s disappointment over the dwindling size of Uganda’s most popular street food, but Kiyaga is struggling with the rising cost of wheat and cooking oil.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has halted exports out of the two countries, which account for about 26% of wheat exports globally and about 80% of the world’s exports of sunflower oil, pushing prices to an all-time high, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency. Not only oil and wheat are affected. Prices of the most consumed foods worldwide, such as meat, grains and dairy products, hit their highest levels ever in March, making a nutritious meal even harder to buy for those who already struggle to feed themselves and their families. The U.N. organization warns the conflict could lead to as many as 13.1 million more people going hungry between 2022 and 2026.

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