The Chinese Director-General of African Affairs, Lu Shaye, claimed in an interview with a Paris-based magazine that the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was not a friend to China but on the contrary had been the guest of many Western leaders. This comment immediately spawned much sarcasm across the Chinese blogosphere.
The interview, which appeared in Jeune Afrique (Young Africa), was published online in its entirety by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Oct. 21.
By the next day, more than 150,000 Chinese viewers had responded. People were mostly sarcastic about the sudden volte-face of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) upon the death of Gadhafi and found it strange that while alive, he was praised as an old friend, but now he had never been a friend to China.
According to Mr. Zhang Xinyu, founder of the Free Flow of Global Information, the CCP’s motivation to change its tune was simply an attempt to deceive the general domestic public and those who don’t know any better about how the CCP really is. Continuing to claim that Gadhafi had been an old friend would embarrass the CCP in the eyes of the international community.
He expressed the opinions of many with a Chinese idiom: “When the rabbit dies, the fox grieves.”
Past Friendship and Close Ties
Gadhafi visited Beijing in October of 1982 and met with Deng Xiaoping. In April of 2002, CCP boss Jiang Zemin visited Libya with a delegation consisting of more than 100 Chinese officials and businessmen.
Jiang inspected Gadhafi’s bombed-out residence which had been attacked by the United States in 1986 and praised him as a close friend, saying that while America had destroyed the walls of his palace, they couldn’t destroy his spirit.
In 2007, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Gazette reported that the Gadhafi Arab Thought Conference had been held on April 27 at Wuhan University and was attended by nearly 40 delegates including: Libya’s ambassador to China, China’s former ambassador to Yemen and Libya, and professors from Beijing University.
The attendees characterized Gadhafi as an important state leader as well as an old friend to the Chinese people; he was also lauded as a renowned thinker because the concept of “Third Universal Theory” formulated in his “Green Book” had been widely applied in international diplomacy. His literary works have had a tremendous impact, they said.
Commenting on this issue, Tang Boqiao, Chairman of the China Peace and Democracy Federation, said: “The CCP had given unspoken support to Gadhafi, hoping that he would not be thrown out of power. Only when Gaddafi was close to collapse did the CCP reverse it stance and began to deliver supplies to Libyan opposition forces. Simultaneously, the CCP-controlled media changed its attitude towards Gadhafi completely. It was then that CCP gave up on its former friend and attempted to distance itself from him. “
Just this past August, the Chinese regime portrayed the former Libyan dictator in relatively complimentary terms as a "Middle Eastern strongman" who defied Western threats and pressure.”
The CCP’s propaganda now says that Gadhafi was “insane,” and that his death “concludes the Middle East’s era of madmen.” A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman also called for “an inclusive political process,” which has yet to appear in China itself.
China was the last UN Security Council member to recognize the Libyan transition, holding off until assurances were made that contracts signed by the late “insane friend” would be honored by any new government.