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In the press

To get rich is not glorious

Papers are leading on secret documents obtained in Libya - from MI6 cooperation with Tripoli to the possibility Chinese companies sought to sell arms to Gaddafi as late as July. China's apparent lust for wealth, meanwhile, gets a slamming in a report on a high suicide rate among the country's super-rich. That's the focus for Monday 5th September 2011.


The Independent headlines “Revealed: MI6 saved Saif Gaddafi from death threat”. It says: “British intelligence and Scotland Yard were involved in an international operation to protect Saif al-Islam, son of Muammar Gaddafi, from an Islamist plot to assassinate him on British soil”. That claim is based on secret files discovered by the paper. The events date back to 2004. At the time, Saif al-Islam was seen as a key figure in bringing Libya in from the cold, amid efforts to encourage the country to end its search for a nuclear capability. The paper says MI6 was told “a terrorist cell linked to Qatar was planning the attack from Paris” and “no evidence was presented to back up the charge”.

The New York Times is leading “China Sought to Sell Arms to Gaddafi, Documents Suggest”. It says that in the final weeks of Muammar Gaddafi’s battle with rebels, Chinese state companies offered to sell him weapons in apparent violation of UN sanctions, and the Chinese companies suggested they could be delivered through third countries like Algeria or South Africa. A Libyan rebel military spokesman tells the paper any country known to have violated sanctions would have “poor business prospects and other dealings with Libya”.

The documents concerning China were found by journalist Graeme Smith of the Toronto paper The Globe and Mail. He found them in a rubbish bin in an area of Tripoli where many Gaddafi regime officials lived. He says “they suggest China may have played a double game in the Libyan war, claiming neutrality but covertly helping the dictator”.

Still with Chinese business, the China Daily is looking at the downside of getting rich. It has a cover story on a high suicide rate among China’s wealthy. Deng Xiao Ping may have said “to get rich is glorious” but some Chinese millionaires are managing the boom and bust cycle badly. The paper says business losses can lead to feelings of powerlessness. The number of “super-rich” has jumped 9% since last year. The paper concludes by asking: “Better off poor?”

Still with the China Daily, it has a photo of a man who used to have control of lots of money, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the sex scandal-hit former IMF boss. It shows him arriving back in Paris with the caption: “A moment to reflect”. And Strauss-Kahn is on the front page of the Wall Street Journal Europe with the caption “From Court to Courtyard, Strauss-Kahn Back home”. And the front page of El Pais has a photo of him too with the caption: “Un regresor perturbador”, a disturbing return.

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