Political has-been and erstwhile presidential hopeful US senator John McCain ruffled a few Chinese feathers over the weekend at a security conference in Munich by announcing that “The Arab Spring Is Coming To China.”
Said McCain to China’s Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun in front of an audience of diplomats and ministers, “It is a matter of concern when Tibetans are burning themselves to death because of the continued repression of the Tibetan people in your country.”
“I have said on many occasion and I will say again the Arab Spring is coming to China as well.”
Zhang did not take it lying down. He retorted, “China is China … Some people suggest the Arab Spring will come to China, but that is more than a fantasy because the policies and governance of the country have the overwhelming support of the people.”
“In China, a country that was subjected to foreign invasion and occupation for 109 years, the Chinese people are resentful of any kind of lecturing on how China should manage its own affairs,” added Zhang.
The two apparently shook hands at the end of the meeting as McCain told Zhang, “I hope you didn’t interpret my remarks as anything other than the advocacy that I and others hold for every nation in the world, including yours.”
Back home, a report by People’s Daily described the confrontation as being “full of gunpowder smell”, and McCain as “aggressive”, notes the South China Morning Post.
“China has implemented different policies from those implemented in the West Asian and North African nations. China is different from those nations because the policies and governance of the country have the overwhelming support of the people,” the paper quoted Zhang as saying.
On Friday, just one day before the conference, three ethnic Tibetans set themselves on fire in Sichuan, said activists. If true, this would bring the total number of self-immolations to 19 in under a year.