At long last, China has come out with outright condemnation of the western military intervention in Libya. What is of great significance is that the criticism has come from President Hu Jintao and China has promptly publicised it. Equally noteworthy is that Hu chose to make his criticism at a meeting in Beijing today with the visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been the most ardent exponent in the western world of the military intervention in Libya. According to the Xinhua news agency report, Hu said history has repeatedly shown that the use of force is not an answer to problems, but only makes them more complicated. "Dialogue and other peaceful means are the ultimate solutions to problems," Hu said.
The Libyan situation has captured international attention and China is greatly concerned about the situation, Hu said, adding that China believes that the UN Security Council's resolution on Libya aims to quell violence and protect civilians. "If military action brings disaster to civilians and causes a humanitarian crisis, then it runs counter to the purpose of the UN resolution," Hu said.
In a reference apparently to the stance taken by the African Union against the NATO intervention in Libya, Hu said, "We have noticed that some countries and regional organizations have raised proposals and suggestions in solving the Libya crisis, which did not lack constructive ideas." He advised Sarkozy that China believes it is in the interests of all concerned parties to positively respond to these proposals. Stressing China's support of political efforts to ease the tension in Libya, Hu said China has called on relevant parties to immediately cease fire, seek peaceful ways to solve problems and avoid more civilian casualties. Hu said China believes that the independence, sovereignty, unification and territorial integrity of a country should be respected and that China is against the use of force in international affairs.
It is noteworthy that Hu spoke at length on the Libyan issue. Quite obviously, Beijing senses that the West is unilaterally expanding the scope of the UN SC resolution and a likelihood of western troop deployment on Libyan soil cannot be ruled out. Hu's stance comes as a big snub to Sarkozy and the Chinese stance makes it impossible for the NATO to gain any clear-cut mandate from the UN SC, as it had managed to secure for its involvement in the Balkans and Afghanistan.
China's clear-cut position should also embolden circles within Russia that are alarmed over the western intervention in Libya to raise their head over the parapet. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has been keeping an ambivalent stance so far, which drew pointed commendation from US President Barack Obama personally. Medvedev's overriding priority has been not to let the Libya problem come in the way of spoiling his policy of "reset" with Obama despite the glaring fact that the western intervention in Libya goes against the fundamental tenets of Russian foreign policy that Moscow has been espousing in the past decade. Hu's stance puts pressure on Moscow to speak out unequivocally on the Libyan problem.