The photograph in a Beijing tabloid showed a baby playing with an Osama doll. The picture was not from the back alleys of Afghanistan but boomtown Hangzhou in east China.
When Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani travels to China next week, he will get a respite from the global censure of Islamabad’s anti-terror policies. On the Chinese Internet, online polls are recording sympathy among hyper-nationalist fringe groups for the slain ‘anti-US warrior’.
“China and Pakistan are good neighbours, friends, partners and brothers,’’ said the foreign ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu this week.
The outpouring of sympathy for Pakistan is not limited to China’s official circles and the media, which views the US raid as violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. Sixty per cent of 500,000 people polled by Hong-Kong based Phoenix television “agreed that Laden’s death was a sad event,’’ said the Global Times. The respondents called Laden an ‘anti-US warrior’. Only 18 per cent said they were happy that the terrorist is dead.
The foreign ministry has called the Laden killing a ‘milestone’ in counter-terrorism. At the same time, the state-run media has issued a sustained series of reports to downplay the event and focus on Pakistan’s ‘sacrifices’ in the war on terror.
China has set an example for the West on how to treat Pakistan as a sincere partner, said the Global Times last weekend. “Indian society’s geopolitical observations about this region are worrisome,’’ said its editorial on Saturday. “Extremism in India may stunt its efforts to become a more responsible power in South Asia.”
The paper reported an online discussion which suggested that Laden’s killing be avenged ‘by attacking the US’.