BEIJING // China's official news agency said yesterday the assault that killed the US ambassador to Libya highlighted an "arrogant" Washington's "flawed" Middle East strategy, in unusually outspoken comments.
In a strongly worded commentary Xinhua said the violent attack, which has been condemned by governments around the world including China's, showed the need for Washington to reconsider its policies in the region.
"The United States has been pursuing hegemony in the Middle East for decades, and people in the region are fed up with the image of 'the arrogant American'," it said.
Ambassador J Christopher Stevens and three other US diplomatic staff were killed in the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday initially blamed on a rampaging mob infuriated by an inflammatory film.
US officials have since said it was a well-planned assault by militants using the protests as a pretext.
The Xinhua commentary said the Benghazi attack and an assault on the US embassy in Cairo highlighted "America's flawed strategy in the Middle East and the necessity for Washington to rethink its policies toward the region".
It contrasted strongly with an official statement from foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei, who said Beijing was "shocked" by the attacks. "We strongly condemn the violent deeds," he added.
Beijing never accepted the Nato air strikes on Libya that led to the fall of Muammar Qaddafi, saying the West had gone further than authorised in UN resolutions.
The Chinese government has been wary of democratic aspirations spreading ever since the Arab Spring revolts that began in Tunisia in 2010 and went on to sweep the region.
A separate editorial in the Global Times daily on Thursday said the attacks showed that the United States "may have failed in its strategy to promote democracy in the Middle East over the past 10 years".
"The strategy has brought neither a beneficial process of local order nor has it given the Arab world an obvious inclination to the West," it said.