One China, three foreign policy faces

China has a changing attitude to the thornier diplomatic and security crises now afflicting the Asian continent. Depending on the amount of national interest at play and the power it can reasonably project in the relevant geopolitical chessboards, Beijing can put on the face of peace facilitator in Syria, peace broker in Afghanistan and would-be boss in the Western Pacific.

While the main driver for the Chinese diplomacy in the Middle East is the protection of economic interests, the assertion of national sovereignty, combined with the aspiration to become the driving force in East Asia, mostly explains China’s moves in the East and South China seas. The rationale for Beijing’s posturing in Central Asia is instead more nuanced. The region is in fact a crossroads for many stakeholders; here China is committed to safeguarding precious economic assets and, at the same time, exerting some form of power.

In an osmotic way, all of these three approaches are conditioned by China’s interaction with the other great powers – the United States and Russia. Continue reading

China’s Tacit Approval of Moscow’s Ukraine Policy

Since Moscow initiated military operations in Ukraine in February 2014, China has seemingly adopted an ambiguous stance as Russia’s annexation of Crimea and destabilization of southeastern Ukraine evoked international condemnation. During the past year, Beijing and Moscow strengthened their strategic partnership by deepening economic ties and enhancing bilateral military cooperation. China’s comparative silence on the Ukraine crisis has given way to unusually blunt remarks from a Chinese diplomat in Brussels who recently expressed tacit support for Moscow (UNIAN, February 27). Such remarks and the continued dynamic growth of Sino-Russian relations contradict efforts by the United States and the European Union to diplomatically and economically isolate Russia. Moreover, they leave open the question as to whether Beijing and Moscow are forming a de facto military alliance. Continue reading