Ever since its founding, the People’s Republic of China has adhered to a foreign policy of non-interference in other country’s internal affairs – or so it claims. But with China’s rapid ascent and ever-closer integration with the outside world, this doctrine has become increasingly anachronistic.
Overseas, China’s role in places like Sudan and Burma not only draws international opprobrium, but also taints its reputation. By maintaining cozy relations with repressive regimes and protecting them from international sanctions, China risks being seen as their accomplice. Even when China’s voice could be decisive in resolving crises or preventing bloodshed, instead of acting, its diplomats repeat the old platitudes about non-interference.
The recent “saffron revolution” in Burma presented China with not only a challenge, but also an opportunity to exert its influence. Yet it failed the test of statesmanship once again by sitting on its hands and merely calling for restraint. Thanks to China’s collusion, the suffering of Burma’s people continues.
China’s mixture of inaction with a mercantilist approach to its Third World trading partners attests to the hypocrisy of its foreign policy. For, where access to natural resources is concerned, China is more than willing to discard its non-interference doctrine.