Archive for February 13th, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Press Review: Huanqiu apparently relaxes Egypt Commenting

People’s Daily online (人民网) had an article on Saturday which explored the paths Egypt might take after president Mubarak’s departure. After pointing out that the military had vowed to respect all existing international treaties, Li Xiao (李潇), a People’s Daily correspondent in Cairo,  describes the military leaders’ and the opposition groups’ current situation. The military leaders’*) fourth communiqué, he writes, had stated that the existing cabinet would temporarily continue to govern. It wasn’t yet possible to assess if the public would find the communiqué acceptable. The military leaders were in discussions and explorations concerning the transitional period. Li touches on several possibilities, such as presidential elections within sixty days (as the current constitution would require after a president’s resignation), a transitional period longer than sixty days, or a new constitution, which would define a president’s powers, the maximum number of terms in office, etc. Concerning the possibility of a new constitution, Li quotes an American University researcher (阿里·侯赛因) that there was a variety of different demands from different opposition groups.

Opinions among the Muslim Brotherhood, concerning the transitional period, weren’t all identical either, writes Li. While some gave the army credit for a neutral position during the demonstrations, and advocated dialog with the military, there were also younger brotherhood members who were expecting a broader base and membership of a government of unity during the transitional period.

Former International Atomic Energy Agency director general Mohamed El Baradei is quoted as saying that during the difficult transitional period, the military should share power with the people (军队应与人民共享权力).

Enorth (Tianjin) kept most of  its articles on the situation in Egypt shorter, and seems to depend on Xinhua newsagency reports mostly, and on (中国网) occasionally.  Enorth did, however, carry a longer Xinhua article on Saturday, dealing with the development on crude oil prices after Mubarak’s resignation. While Egypt was no major oil-producing country, there had been concerns about control of the Suez Canal. Mubarak’s resignation had led to falling oil prices, as tensions were now expected to ease. The New York stock market had started somewhat lower on Friday, but quickly began to rise after the news of Mubarak’s resignation had been out. European stock markets had also been generally rising after Mubarak’s resignation. However, market analysts and brokers remained cautious about Egypt’s situation and expected market performances, writes Xinhua, quoting from two opinions.

"On the first day after Mubarak, Egyptians spontaneously cleaned up Liberation Square"

"On the first day after Mubarak, Egyptians spontaneously cleaned up Liberation Square"

That said, forum exchanges seem to remain a sensitive issue. A forum where a photographer named Adi was quoted as saying that there was hope in Egypt, and where spontaneous activities to clean up Liberation Square after the demonstrations were apparently described too, was apparently rejected or “blocked by administrator” (可能被管理员屏蔽或删除!) later.

"Possibly blocked"

"Possibly blocked"

Meantime, the English-language Global Times (affiliated with China Daily) reports that

The world countries agree that the fall of Mubarak’s regime will usher in a new era in the Middle East in general, while expressing concerns over the future of the country and the Middle East.

Huanqiu Shibao‘s main headline is that Egypt’s current cabinet will remain in office, pending elections. And different from recent days, there are readers’ comments again, even if only fifteen, more than twenty-four hours after publication. And interestingly, not everything is harmonized:

In the end, they didn’t open fire (终于没开枪),

says one comment, and another, more skeptical comment suggests:

Let’s wait until they hand the power to the people – let’s talk again then (先还政于民再说吧).


*) Referred to as Egypt’s Highest or Supreme Military Commission (埃及最高军事委员会) in the articfle.

“The Greatest Democracy for Humankind…”, February 3, 2011
On the Events in Egypt, Adam Cathcart, February 11, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Democracy or Meritocracy?

Both these nouns are fairly broad concepts, and frequently vague, too. Just try to apply either of these tags on any country.

Singapore claims to be a meritocracy. China, where you best be a princeling, or close to one to be considered a decisionmaker, claims to be one, too. Its officials actually claim it to be both a meritocracy, and democratic.

Then take Egypt. Until a month ago, Hosni Mubarak was Egypt’s president. OK – nobody I  know personally called Egypt a “democratic country”. But only in more recent weeks, he has been addressed here as a “dictator”. Or, as David Hugendick wrote in Germany’s weekly Die Zeit on Thursday:

Now, as Egypt revolts, the world is crying out aloud: Mubarak is a dictator. After all, language is constantly changing.  But one could ask, why only now?

It’s not that the terms would be wrong. What is vexing is the pace and volume the Western public is disposing of its decades-old indifference. […] What was very recently a government is now a regime, as if nothing else had ever been said.

Meritocracy. President Mubarak, in his last televised speech in office, emphasized his merits – how he fought for Egypt as a military pilot, lived for Egypt, faced death, and “exhausted his life”.  How he rejoiced when the Sinai returned to Egypt. How he never reeled under foreign pressures or dictated orders.

Meritocracy. It is argued for in this commenting thread on the Peking Duck. It was the topic of a debate held by Intelligence Asia in Hong Kong, on Tuesday, too. Zhongnanhai gives an account of its course, adds links, and some thoughts. That plus a return to the question as to how – if at all – “different culture” should be a point in an argument about democracy.


(Remotely) related:
Cairo protesters speak (a bit of) Chinese, February 10, 2011

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