Monday, March 21, 2011

Bombs in Libya, Ripples in China

I don't expect to comment much on recent events in Libya.  However, I do think think it is worth sharing one way they will likely be viewed by many in China.

Across China, I've had conversations with many Chinese who want to see significant change in the Chinese Government.  However, in the vast majority of cases they don't support a mass rebellion.  One reason very commonly mentioned is the belief that any instability caused by a rebellion could provide an opportunity for a foreign country to take advantage of China, even through military force.  They are very conscious that in the past, particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries, various countries have invaded or taken advantage of China in one way or another.

Regardless of the results, the actions of the coalition forces in Libya will be viewed by many in China as further evidence that the 21st century may not be so different from previous centuries if the Chinese aren't careful.  They will think "look at what is now happening after many Libyans fought against their government".  Few Chinese would believe that coalition forces are in Libya without expectations of strong personal gain, just as some countries had in China in previous centuries -- in many cases to the detriment of the Chinese people.

My aim here isn't to argue against or in support of the coalition actions in Libya.  I simply want to point out that the reverberations of the bombs dropping in Libya are being felt far beyond their immediate targets.  In China they may be just ripples in the minds of people's consciousness, but they may have the unintended consequence of further dampening any desire Chinese have to take a very active stand to bring about significant changes in China -- some of the same changes hoped for by many elsewhere.

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