China as an Emerging Actor in Conflict Management: from Non-Interference in Internal Affairs to “Constructive” Engagement

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Abstract


The need to protect citizens and investments abroad is placing tremendous pressure on China’s traditional foreign policy strategy and noninterference principle. Instability in most of BRI countries form new security conditions, pushing China to be more flexible in engaging in missions it had previously opposed, including political engagement in intrastate conflicts in the developing world. Following the formula “politics is a big economy”, China starts rethinking its security interests. As a result, China has smoothly adopted the transition strategy from non-intervention into internal affairs to a more proactive non-indifference approach, that Chinese academics are describing as “creative” or “constructive” engagement. Many new elements contribute to this new constructive engagement - conceptual narrative, political support, geopolitical competition, growing capacities and new security conditions. The key point of the article is to analyze China’s strategy in defending national interests overseas, including the rescue and peacekeeping operations, mediation, political envoys, etc. The special focus is done on proactive peacekeeping policy of China and its new role in the security environment. Obviously, in future China will follow implementing the overseas missions, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, evacuation operations, defense of sea lanes, stabilization operations, peacekeeping and counterterrorism missions. After launching in 2017 its first overseas military base in Djibouti, there is little evidence to predict that in the near future China intends to construct more bases. But nevertheless the geopolitical rivalry with the United States might push China to convert three deep-water ports - Gwadar (Pakistan), Salalah (Oman), and Seychelles ports into naval bases. The degree of the China’s involvement in global security landscape will depend on the level of its responsibility, since Beijing is undergoing through a higher degree of international pressure in order to take more obligations. Responding to overseas security crises through military actions would be mostly shaped by events (case-by-case approach), inspired by political motivations and organized as small-scale and low-intensity missions.


About the authors

Alexandra Victorovna Khudaykulova

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-University); RUDN University

Author for correspondence.
Email: alexandra_77@mail.ru
Moscow, Russian Federation

PhD (Political Sciences), Associate Professor of Department of Applied International Analysis, Moscow State Institute of International Relations of MFA of Russia (MGIMO University); Associate Professor of Department of Theory and History of International Relations, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)

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