Sunday, March 20, 2011

Friends within and without

The Arab League, Russia and China are now criticizing the use of air strikes and a no-fly zone in Libya. Apparently they don't like how force is being deployed to drive back Qaddafi's tanks, soldiers and heavy artillery. (You know, heavy artillery, those weapons used to bombard cities?)

According to The New York Times:
A commentary in China’s state-run People’s Daily newspaper said that the Western actions violated international law and courted unforeseen disaster. “It should be seen that every time military means are used to address crises, that is a blow to the United Nations Charter and the rules of international relations,” the commentary said.
Funny words coming from the CCP, who thinks that power grows out of the barrel of a gun. (Oh wait, those international principles mean nothing within borders, because governments have the shield of sovereignty. My mistake!) Anyway, I decided to look for this People's Daily (人民日報) editorial, but lo and behold, that quote was nowhere to be found via Google! However, I spotted another similar article, which was the "official" English translation:
"It should be noted that attempts to resolve the crisis using military means affects the U.N. Charter and the norms governing international relations."
Hm... awfully soft and weasel-y. Did the NY Times just spice things up for a quote? So I went to the original Chinese:
It looks like The New York Times went to the original Chinese-language editorial, and translated it, pretty spot on. I know that Chinese state media tailor their editorials for different target audiences. Chinese pieces are for domestic consumption, English pieces are for Western audiences. (Seriously, how many times have you seen something in Global Times and thought, "Wow, that's refreshing/novel/encouraging!" but then recalled that the target audience is primarily Western ex-pats in China and realized you're being had?)

But what's the rationale here for such soft criticism abroad and harsh critique at home? This is just a reminder that the conflict in Libya is being spun in a particular way to Chinese audiences. If you look at the headlines, it's the ol' "imperialist West intervening in other countries' affairs" again. Sigh.

The world finally unites to stop a madman from plunging the eastern half of his country into a bloodbath of reprisal killings, and Beijing is scoring political points, while doing nothing to help? The West isn't perfect, but I hope Arab publics remember which societies are willing to reach across borders to help them in the fight against tyranny.

No comments: