China media: Paris Charlie Hebdo attack condemned

Candle light vigil in central Paris Image copyright EPA
Image caption The deadly attack has seen expressions of national union and protests across France

Papers in China condemn the attack on the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which killed 12 people, while raising questions over freedom of the press in the West.

The satirical weekly has courted controversy in the past with its irreverent take on news and current affairs.

It was firebombed in November 2011 a day after it carried a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.

Describing the gunmen as "brutal", state-run Xinhua News Agency says terrorism has become a common threat to the world, and points to the problems France's anti-terrorism policies.

"In recent years, France has been involved in military actions in Libya and it recently joined the US-led forces to fight the Islamic State, making it a prominent terror target," the news agency says.

According to the analysis, "freedom of religious belief and lax immigration policies" have also prompted the spread of extremism in the country.

Some observers, meanwhile, feel that some European countries will rethink their anti-terrorism effort in the Middle East and some of their domestic policies in the aftermath of the tragedy.

"European countries and the US are likely to review their security framework… This incident will change the outlook and policies of these societies," Zhao Chu, a military expert, tells the Qianjiang Evening News.

The Global Times' Chinese edition blames "freedom of speech" for causing ethnic tensions in Western societies.

"Many Muslims living in the West felt they did not receive respect and trust. A few Western media outlets had made sarcastic remarks about the Islamic prophet, yet the Westerners think that this is 'freedom of speech'. Some of them even uphold such a freedom as a Western value," argues the daily.

Noting that British PM David Cameron had supported press freedom after the shooting incident, the editorial points out that Western leaders have been "unwilling" to persuade the media to exercise restraint for fear of losing electoral votes.

"How to let Muslims feel respected? This is a common issue that is facing Western as well as other multi-religious societies," the paper concludes.

An article in the Observer news portal adds that press freedom in the West has not helped but intensified ethnic tensions in their societies.

"So, the lack of such freedom in China is in fact a blessing for all ethnic groups in the country," it says.

Hong Kong's future

Meanwhile, papers welcome the launch of a political consultation in Hong Kong on how the territory's leader is elected.

This second round of consultation, which starts on Wednesday, is the latest step in Hong Kong's public debate on how its leader should be elected.

It comes after more than two months of pro-democracy Occupy Central protests. The activists had demanded Beijing to allow free elections for the territory's next leader in 2017.

China says everyone can vote but a pro-Beijing committee will screen candidates for the chief executive's position.

Xinhua quotes analysts as saying that the latest procedure shows the "greatest sincerity" of the authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong in granting universal suffrage.

"The people of Hong Kong have realised that they can't achieve democracy by going against the law," Zou Pingxue, a member from the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, says.

Tian Feilong, a legal expert at Beihang University, tells the Global Times that the consultation is "vital for the future of Hong Kong and shows the government's transparency in the reform process".

"The consultation is part of preparing the region for universal suffrage… If the city could indeed enjoy universal suffrage, it would greatly improve the relations between Hong Kong and Chinese mainland and benefit the city's development and economy," says the pundit.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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