Loss of nerve or just not paying attention?
They might have got the oil contracts from a grateful and rescued Gaddafi, but no. They hesitated and the opportunity was lost. They could have done something and emerged out of this with greater credibility and national prestige enhanced, but they chose to watch a bunch of thugs kick the shit of some Arab-African fucker with a bit of oil and walk on by, shaking their heads when all they needed to do was raise their voice and shake a stick at them.
China not a sleeping dragon but a dwarf python too engorged with food to move. Russian bear in hibernation and snoring fitfully