February 24, 2011 08:22
China has expressed concern about unrest in Libya, especially attacks on Chinese workers and assets there. A Libyan diplomat stationed in Beijing has resigned to protest his government's violent crackdown on protesters.
China has been watching unfolding events in the Middle East and North Africa and responded cautiously to the latest uprising in Libya.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said China hopes Libya can restore social stability and normality. He says China is concerned over reports that Chinese business interests in Libya have been attacked by gun-wielding looters and that 1,000 Chinese workers were forced to flee a construction site. He also called for an investigation into the attacks on Chinese businesses and citizens and punishment of those involved.
Ma, however, did not offer a condemnation of reports that the Libyan government has fired on and killed pro-democracy protesters. The United Nations, United States and the European Union, as well as many other countries, have all criticized the crackdown. His comments came as the UN Security Council prepared to meet later to discuss the crisis.
A Libyan diplomat in China, Hussein el-Sadek el-Mesrati, was among several across the world to resign in protest at Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi's violent measures to maintain his grip on power. Earlier, he joined a small demonstration staged by Libyan expatriates outside the Libyan Embassy in Beijing, denouncing Gadhafi's 40-year-reign and the ensuing bloodshed.
Beijing's restrained response to the violence in Libya matched its response to the recent pro-democracy revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.
Joseph Cheng is a professor of political science at City University in Hong Kong. He says Chinese leaders adopt a controversial policy of non-inference in what it considers to be the domestic affairs of other countries. He says China is unwilling to publicly condemn such violence as it has cultivated itself as the champion and friend of the developing world and Arab nations. "Hence it does not want to criticize governments in the Arab world, as it does not want to alienate these governments," he said. Cheng says China is concerned about the wave of protests in the Middle East spreading to its shores.
The Chinese government is censoring and monitoring Internet information about Middle East unrest and ordered media outlets to follow strict reporting guidelines on the situation.
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