Friday, April 1, 2011

'Arab Spring' unlikely in China: MM

Apr 1, 2011
region in revolt

MINISTER Mentor Lee Kuan Yew does not see the wave of revolts against authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and North Africa spreading to China, he told veteran American broadcaster Charlie Rose in a recent interview.

In the interview, which was broadcast on The Charlie Rose Show on Bloomberg TV this week, Mr Lee noted that public security is comprehensive and tight in China. He was asked by Mr Rose if recent mass upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa that some have referred to as the 'Arab Spring' could come to China. Saying that this was 'not likely', Mr Lee added: 'They call this the Velvet Revolution and it took place in the Arab world. And some people put it on Facebook and say 'let's gather', and it will be put down before anybody could gather anywhere.'

Chinese Internet users, inspired by events in the Arab world, had earlier this year tried to organise mass strolls in a number of cities but were stopped by the authorities. China's leaders, said Mr Lee, believed that their system was right for their own circumstances. 'They're not interested in what the world thinks of them. They're interested in their own internal stability and good order and success,' he said.

Mr Lee, who was interviewed at the Istana, was also asked about the uprisings that have swept the Arab world since the beginning of the year, bringing down the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt.

In Libya, a Western-led military intervention is backing rebels fighting to oust leader Muammar Gaddafi. Mr Lee noted that France, under President Nicolas Sarkozy, had taken the lead to recognise the rebels and knew the area well: 'Sarkozy has, I think, very courageously gone ahead regardless of what the US was willing to do. 'I think he knows if Gaddafi stays there, they'll have no end of problems with Libya,' he said. 'They cannot let him stay, I agree with that completely. If they let him stay, there will be a two-state Libya, he with his clan and the majority of tribes against him and constant warring.'

Mr Lee was also asked if there was a dilemma in the United States choosing to act in the case of Libya but not in Bahrain, or if Saudi Arabia were involved.

He said they were different types of problems: 'Libya is tribal with a dictator on top. Saudi Arabia is feudal with a king on top. They have massive oil wealth which is used to keep his people happy.

'Bahrain is a Sunni minority ruling over a Shi'ite majority. And the Shi'ites confronted the Sunni rulers with the encouragement of Iran to get a bigger share of power, which had repercussions in Saudi Arabia because the oil wells to the east are all Shi'ite. So Saudi Arabia intervened in a massive way and put it down.'

He added: 'I would go along with what has been done in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and what is being done in Libya. In fact, I think in Libya more has to be done to resolve the problem with Gaddafi.'

[Unlike the Liberals in the US, who ask, as a matter of principle, if the US would intervene in Libya, why doesn't it intervene in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, etc. MM Lee sees situational differences that over-ride broad (and situation-inssensitive) principles. This is consistent with his disdain for ideological positions that do not take into consideration relevant factors and differences. "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."]

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