The Bric’s did not support Gaddafi, officially they are not against the war, but abstained on the UN 1973 resolution which calls for a no-fly zone over Libya. As a coincidence, Brazil, Russia, India, China (and Germany) are jointly in the Security Council and all of them did not vote on the matter. China and Russia, permanent members, did not use their veto power. So the world was allowed to intervene in Libya, but without the blessing from these emerging powers. Their loud silence marks an important distinction, leaving the industrialized countries, with few exceptions, to take the responsibility to oust the Libyan dictator. Nevertheless , no obstacle was built on the resolution’s approval.
China kept its long-time position of “noninterference on internal affairs”, even though it knew others countries would do that. Beijing did not voice any opposition since its friendship with and sympathy for Tripoli, if any, is rather loose. Oil import is marginal if compared with other African countries, like Angola or Gabon. Gaddafi is a not well balanced, trust worthy and erratic leader, not the one China likes to deal with. Even the dramatic rescue of the Chinese workers in Libya by a PLA’s ship has been seen as a matter of national pride and ability. Italy too has a controversial approach to the matter.
Berlusconi, the Prime Minister, pampered Gaddafi to get his benevolence. Many issues were involved: possible business for Italian companies, import of oil, a geo-political alliance (despite the USA and EU’s opposition). Now Libya is in danger and Italy is not able to play a role, because it has no credibility one way or the other: neither leading a coalition for war, nor advocating a negotiation.
A dream has now become a nightmare. Instead of business, the Italia-Libya treaty will bring an influx of refugees. On the brink of disruption, Libya recalls other African countries previously under the Italian colonialism, like Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia. All of them were involved in political fragmentation, civil war, lack of solid institutions. It is possible their disunity reflected the original sin from Italy: a weak national cohesion. This might help to explain why China never took in consideration a possible negotiation with Libya: which statehood can be used as a platform to discuss? So, to abstain at the UN was the only possible solution, waiting for Gaddafi to be replaced by different means and by others’ armies.