China “betrayed” by Russia
Following the tumult in Libya that began several months ago, China and Russia loudly criticized U.S.-and NATO-led efforts in Libya. China and Russia jointly abstained on the U.N. vote to establish a no-fly zone over Libyan airspace but both
But on May 24, China’s communist government was stunned by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement that Moscow was ready to recognize the rebel government and would soon establish official contact. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev went further and said in clear unequivocal terms at the G-8 summit May 27 that Gaddafi had lost legitimacy and must step down.
The Russian about-face put China in the embarrassing position of being the only permanent member in the U.N. Security Council without diplomatic ties to the rebel organization. Some Chinese news outlets, reflecting official angst, cried about a Russian betrayal and the age-old Sino-Russo animosity appears suddenly on the rise again. Isolated and bitter, Chinese government spokeswoman Jiang Yu issued a statement on May 31 saying China is now willing to “keep contact with all sides in Libya.”
Influenced by a deep antiAmerican strategic culture, China’s reaction highlights the country’s historically poor record of making friends in the world, mainly a result of Beijing’s tendency to befriend whoever the United States views as rogue states or enemies, including in the past North Vietnam, North Korea, Yugoslavia under Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Angola, Albania, Cuba and Libya. Since 1982, China was Mr. Moammar Gadhafi’s main ally on the world stage and Libya has become China’s chief investment outlet in North Africa, totaling more than $20 billion, mostly through telecommunications, railways, and oil fields investment, with close to 36,000 Chinese workers living in Libya at the beginning of the current unrest.
Miles Yu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.