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