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Restraint called for in Egypt

By Zhao Yanrong in Beijing and Li Lianxing in Nairobi | China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-15 08:08

Restraint called for in Egypt

A bloody crackdown cannot solve the fundamental conflict in Egypt, and both sides need to show restraint to end the intense situation, Chinese and African experts said on Wednesday.

Yang Fuchang, who was Chinese vice-foreign minister from 1990 to 1994 and Chinese ambassador to Egypt from 1994 to 1998, said the Egyptian government needs a much more stable and peaceful social environment to further the country's development.

"The government, supported by the army, hopes to end the confrontation by cracking down on protesters. But even if its forces dispersed all the protestors in Cairo, the conflict would not be eased," he said.

Wu Sike, China's envoy to the Middle East, who served as Chinese ambassador to Egypt from 2003 to 2007, said the situation in Egypt may have a greater impact on regional stability.

"Egypt is an important country for the region. The region has been fragmented, and different countries hold different opinions on each issue. Egyptian conflicts may cause further divisions in the area," Wu said.

"The demonstrations and crackdown is a 'lose-lose' solution for both sides," he added.

However, Denise Kodhe, executive director at The Institute for Democracy, Leadership and Empowerment in Africa, based in Nairobi, Kenya, said people have a right to gather to protest and discuss various issues, including politics. He sees the crackdown as another way for the military to curtail people's freedom and said it may lead to more chaos in the country.

"The only way out at the current crisis is for people to be given freedom and enough time to elect people of their own choice," Kodhe said.

The "Arab Spring", a wave of demonstrations that were meant to bring change in the Arab world, especially in North Africa and the Middle East, is "only meaningful if it realizes the people's dream". "A people's movement is one thing, but deciding who takes over leadership after the revolution is the problem," he said.

Chinese citizens' security in Egypt has not been threatened so far but the demonstrations and violent conflicts have had a negative effect on Chinese businesses.

"There have been many cases of theft from Chinese factories, and many Chinese owners closed their shops" during the crackdown, Chen Jiannan, chairman of the Chinese chamber of commerce in Egypt, was quoted as saying by Xinhua News Agency.

Chen added that all Chinese communities in Egypt have a liaison for security affairs. The liaisons report the situation regarding Chinese citizens' safety and local security to local Chinese associations and the Chinese embassy in Cairo.

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(China Daily 08/15/2013 page12)

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