China offers combat troops to UN Peacekeeping

News that is a significant development in the development of China’s foreign relations.

Since Premier Zhou Enlai’s development of the Five Principle’s of Peaceful Co-existance in 1954, the Five Principles-

1. Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,
2. Mutual non-aggression,
3. Mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs,
4. Equality and mutual benefit, and
5. Peaceful co-existance

– have been an unshakeable core of China’s foreign policy.

Where China has been criticised on its application of the Five Principles is in its willingness to engage with states that are ostracised by the West. The most notable examples are North Korea, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Iran.

Whereas, from a Western perspective, the cause for criticism is simple to see; from China’s perspective the issue is far less black and white. However, this is an issue which I will take up in a separate entry.

Returning to China’s willingness to send combat troops to Mali. This is perhaps less surprising than it may seem. For some time now China has been taking a more assertive position, including on the genocide in Darfur and North Korean belligerence. In an attempt to maintain its adherence to the Five Principles, China has called such positioning as “influence without interference”.

Of course, for China, with interests now spread across the globe, perhaps more extensively than any other country, the challenge will be not to be drawn into the trap of becoming the world’s second policeman.

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