What China sees in the Egyptian revolt

While the media has been filled with reports on how American and European leaders have reacted to the Egyptian revolution, not much attention has been paid to how the protests in Tahrir Square have been viewed elsewhere. One place that should be of interest is China, which is also a one-party state based to a large extent on the military. Indeed, a Feb. 14 editorial in the ruling Chinese Communist news paper Global Times stated, "Egypt's middle class is weak, bureaucracy and corruption are prevalent and the income gap between rich and poor is huge." This description also fits China.

The party press has emphasized the potential anti-Western foreign policy implications of the Cairo uprising, while downplaying the ability of democracy to solve Egypt's problems. The point of Monday's editorial was,

If Egypt's future national path is chosen with the help of the United States, the significance of Mubarak's stepping down will be greatly reduced.

If the Egyptians carry out elections by themselves, and encourage the Middle East to make its own choices, nobody could foretell the lasting consequences of this revolution.

Various forces in the Middle East, including extremist forces, will engage in a brand-new competition to imprint upon Egypt's new social makeup. Egypt may well be the first chapter in a regional saga in this light.

Beijing's support for extremist forces and lasting consequences was shown by the lead story Global Times ran on Feb. 13. Its focus was on how Arabs living in Israel celebrated Mubarak's ouster.

Waving Egyptian, Tunisian and Palestinian flags, participants held up signs saying "The Egyptian people are heroes."

Hanin Zuabi, member of Israel's Knesset (parliament) from Balad Party which organized the celebration, told Xinhua she believed the stepping down of Mubarak was not a matter relevant only to Egypt, but also to the whole Arab world. The legislator criticized that Mubarak's authority cared more about the interest of the United States and Israel instead of the Arabs.

Today's Global Times editorial was cynical while arguing that non-Western countries like China will find their own way in accord with their own culture and traditions which will give democracy a new meaning.

From the perspective of history, the global wave of democratization will remove a Western-focused center of interest.

The beginning of the Egyptian revolution is like a constitutional revolution. There seems to be a wide gulf between Egypt and Western cultures, with some external influences blocked out and some allowed in.

In the future, the US-backed Egyptian military and democrats will compete with the Muslim Brotherhood. It is still too early to assert that Egypt and the Middle East will embark on an anti-American road.

But it is even more foolhardy to conclude that the Egyptian revolution was a victory for the West. The current world order is unfair, just as a nation's richest city is filled with affluent Western influences while many live on in poverty. They will ask: Why?

The more globalized democracy is, the more complex its performance will be and the more difficult to distinguish its benefits and drawbacks. But one point is certain: democratization will not lead to global "Westernization."

The attractiveness of Western countries is not their political program, but their lifestyle, partially obtained on global resources.
 
However, the dream of imitating emulating Western countries will shatter for many. The ballot box must reflect the characteristics of different countries, lands, regions and nationalities.

As China celebrates becoming the world's second largest economy, its leaders continue to believe rapid economy growth under a dictatorship is more "democratic" in its results than voting. It is how the Beijing regime has survived since crushing the popular uprising in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and its leaders see no reason to change.

While the media has been filled with reports on how American and European leaders have reacted to the Egyptian revolution, not much attention has been paid to how the protests in Tahrir Square have been viewed elsewhere. One place that should be of interest is China, which is also a one-party state based to a large extent on the military. Indeed, a Feb. 14 editorial in the ruling Chinese Communist news paper Global Times stated, "Egypt's middle class is weak, bureaucracy and corruption are prevalent and the income gap between rich and poor is huge." This description also fits China.

The party press has emphasized the potential anti-Western foreign policy implications of the Cairo uprising, while downplaying the ability of democracy to solve Egypt's problems. The point of Monday's editorial was,

If Egypt's future national path is chosen with the help of the United States, the significance of Mubarak's stepping down will be greatly reduced.

If the Egyptians carry out elections by themselves, and encourage the Middle East to make its own choices, nobody could foretell the lasting consequences of this revolution.

Various forces in the Middle East, including extremist forces, will engage in a brand-new competition to imprint upon Egypt's new social makeup. Egypt may well be the first chapter in a regional saga in this light.

Beijing's support for extremist forces and lasting consequences was shown by the lead story Global Times ran on Feb. 13. Its focus was on how Arabs living in Israel celebrated Mubarak's ouster.

Waving Egyptian, Tunisian and Palestinian flags, participants held up signs saying "The Egyptian people are heroes."

Hanin Zuabi, member of Israel's Knesset (parliament) from Balad Party which organized the celebration, told Xinhua she believed the stepping down of Mubarak was not a matter relevant only to Egypt, but also to the whole Arab world. The legislator criticized that Mubarak's authority cared more about the interest of the United States and Israel instead of the Arabs.

Today's Global Times editorial was cynical while arguing that non-Western countries like China will find their own way in accord with their own culture and traditions which will give democracy a new meaning.

From the perspective of history, the global wave of democratization will remove a Western-focused center of interest.

The beginning of the Egyptian revolution is like a constitutional revolution. There seems to be a wide gulf between Egypt and Western cultures, with some external influences blocked out and some allowed in.

In the future, the US-backed Egyptian military and democrats will compete with the Muslim Brotherhood. It is still too early to assert that Egypt and the Middle East will embark on an anti-American road.

But it is even more foolhardy to conclude that the Egyptian revolution was a victory for the West. The current world order is unfair, just as a nation's richest city is filled with affluent Western influences while many live on in poverty. They will ask: Why?

The more globalized democracy is, the more complex its performance will be and the more difficult to distinguish its benefits and drawbacks. But one point is certain: democratization will not lead to global "Westernization."

The attractiveness of Western countries is not their political program, but their lifestyle, partially obtained on global resources.
 
However, the dream of imitating emulating Western countries will shatter for many. The ballot box must reflect the characteristics of different countries, lands, regions and nationalities.

As China celebrates becoming the world's second largest economy, its leaders continue to believe rapid economy growth under a dictatorship is more "democratic" in its results than voting. It is how the Beijing regime has survived since crushing the popular uprising in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and its leaders see no reason to change.

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