Author Topic: How to Understand China’s Foreign Policy  (Read 2625 times)


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How to Understand China’s Foreign Policy
« on: July 12, 2018, 03:31:23 PM »
How to Understand China’s Foreign Policy
China can become a beacon for the world -- if it trades in its conservative foreign policy for one that emphasizes universal values.
BY DENG YUWEN | APRIL 23, 2013, 5:30 PM

With Xi Jinping’s elevation to the presidency in March, China’s leadership transition is now complete. Yet Beijing still has not elevated foreign affairs to the top level of decision making — it still prioritizes its domestic situation, even though China is the world’s second-largest economy, with interests that stretch across the globe.

Indeed, China remains constrained by its own internal problems, including the rise of nationalism; defects in democracy and human rights; lagging political reform; an unbalanced economy; and the dangers posed by a society in transformation. These problems mold Beijing’s current conservative foreign policy, which focuses on avoiding problems. When a problem happens, China’s Foreign Ministry mobilizes all of its resources to extinguish it — the same strategy it deploys with domestic affairs.

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Beijing’s international economic affairs policy, meanwhile, lacks principles. It needs to stop emphasizing profit and ignoring justice, and start emphasizing both. Its diplomacy now serves the domestic economy. As a country with a relatively low per capita income, and a relatively large number of poor people, that is necessary, for now. But economic diplomacy doesn’t mean ignoring human justice, or some of the most basic international moralities. Beijing has been giving up the moral high ground when it should have been holding fast to it.

Yes, Third World countries should be allowed to prioritize "peaceful development." And Beijing’s advocacy of this concept has been a useful counterweight to the West’s aggressive human rights diplomacy. However, when large-scale human rights violations erupt around the world, development has to give way to human rights. At the very least, the two should be equally important.

Beijing maintains that it adheres to a policy of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs, because otherwise it won’t be able to fight back when the West interferes in China’s domestic affairs. But Beijing should not stop eating for fear of choking. Western countries’ interference inside China doesn’t go beyond talking — China is now a large power, not a small one, and it has enough methods and resources to fight back. Moreover, even if Beijing advocates non-interference in other countries’ domestic affairs, Western countries will continue to criticize China over human rights and other issues. China, therefore, should interfere in other countries’ internal affairs: expressing concern when they severely violate human rights, and using its influence to push for improvement — but not pushing for regime change like the West does. This would create a new, better image for China — that although Beijing cares about human rights, it won’t use human rights as an excuse to mask other interests.

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