February 10, 2011 / 11:07 AM / 9 years ago

China says Egypt should decide future on its own

BEIJING, Feb 10 (Reuters) - China said on Thursday foreign powers should stay out of Egypt’s affairs, in an oblique swipe at the United States and some European countries that have put pressure on embattled President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

“China advocates that Egyptian affairs should be determined by the Egyptian people, and should not face outside interference,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said at a regular press briefing.

“We believe Egypt has the wisdom and ability to find the proper solution and get through this difficult time,” he added.

Beijing’s stance reflects its reluctance to criticise authoritarian governments in the developing world and its long-held policy of denouncing foreign interference in domestic affairs, especially external criticism of Chinese policies.

The Middle East is also a major source of oil for the fast-growing Asian economy.

The White House said on Wednesday that Egyptian ministers must do more to meet the demands of protesters, who want an immediate end to Mubarak’s 30 years of one-man rule and sweeping legislative changes.

Mubarak’s government has hit back at the United States for what it called attempts to impose American will on a loyal Middle East ally, saying rapid reforms would be too risky even as clashes between protesters and security forces continued.

Spokesman Ma also called for stability in the region, saying China recognised that the country’s crisis had broader security implications.

“Egypt is an important country in (the) Arab (region) and Africa. Egyptian stability concerns the entire region’s peace and stability,” Ma said, adding that China supported Egypt’s efforts to maintain stability and resume social order.

China’s tightly controlled state-run media has reported on the unrest in Egypt but has scrubbed public commentary on its political origins from micro-blogs, wary that calls for reform in the Arab world’s most populous nation could ripple into China. (Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Yoko Nishikawa)

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