The End of Non-Interference?

Jeudi 24 octobre 2013

China Analysis (October 2013) - Just Published

Auteurs : François Godement - Agatha Kratz - Antoine Bondaz - Martina Bassan

China’s international role is changing. But the country is struggling to reconcile its traditional foreign policy of non-interference with its growing economic presence around the world. China’s relations with Iran or its response to the crisis in Syria are striking examples of how China is rethinking its foreign policy. This debate also sheds light on how China defines its interests in the Middle East and why Beijing is hesitant to support UN Council resolutions on issues such as Syria.

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The latest issue of China Analysis focuses on China’s foreign-policy on Iran, Sudan, Syria, North Korea and Burma. It shows a rich debate within China’s foreign policy community about China’s global ambitions and responsibilities:

CHINA-SYRIA RELATIONS:

  • China’s UN vetoes on Syria can be seen as a symbol of China’s new role on the international stage. Chinese analysts agree that ending the violence in Syria must be the ultimate aim but disagree with the West on how to achieve it. More fundamentally, Chinese thinkers perceive the notion of “responsibility to protect” as a dangerous and vague concept that aims at legitimising “regime change”. The Chinese vetoes are also seen as a lesson for the West that show that China’s foreign policy is based on strong principles, such as respect for non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. Yan Xuetong for example argues that blocking Security Council resolutions is in China’s interest: It diverts the attention and capabilities of the US away from Asia, it reduces the risk of war between the US and Iran and strengthens Beijing’s partnership with Moscow.

CHINA-IRAN RELATIONS:

  • Beijing’s quest for energy security has brought China closer to Iran over the last decade. But Chinese thinkers recognise that China’s relationship with Iran also drags China into the controversy surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme. Despite calls by the US and the EU to play a more active role in the resolution of the Iranian nuclear crisis - particularly in the enforcement of sanctions - Chinese analysts do not think this is in China’s interest. Instead, they suggest that China should pursue its own economic and security interests in the region, without paying attention to criticism from abroad. However, Chinese scholars are optimistic about the future of China-Iran relations. Zhao Kejin for example thinks that new Iranian president Rouhani may see China as a “strategic opportunity” to break through the diplomatic impasse with the West.

Table of contents

  • 1. China-Iran relations: China’s hawks condemn US influence (Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafaga)
  • 2. China’s diplomacy in post-partition Sudan and South Sudan (Martina Bassan)
  • 3. Reassessing China-North Korea relations (Antoine Bondaz)
  • 4. Has China lost Burma? (Damien Garnier)
  • 5. Syria and China’s international engagement (Antoine Bondaz)

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Asia Centre Fondé en août 2005 par François Godement et une équipe de chercheurs et experts de l’Asie contemporaine, Asia Centre a pour objectif de conduire des recherches sur l’Asie contemporaine, d'organiser des débats et de valoriser, par des publications, les résultats de ces recherches et rencontres.