China’s Middle East Policy Faces Long-Term Challenge From Continuing Turmoil

China’s Middle East Policy Faces Long-Term Challenge From Continuing Turmoil

China’s responses to the turmoil in Syria over the past two years have been relatively consistent. From the very beginning, Beijing has maintained a firm position that the only solution to the crisis is a political one and that Syria’s sovereignty must be respected. And along with Russia, China has vetoed three United Nations Security Council draft resolutions on Syria. The reason is simple: Beijing objects to external interventions in sovereign states’ internal affairs.

There are obvious reasons for this uncompromising adherence to the principles enshrined in the Westphalian system. While the international community’s call for action to stop the continued killing and atrocities in Syria is very much driven by humanitarian concerns based on principles of civilian protection and the responsibility to protect, Beijing argues that unilateral military intervention is at odds with international law and will only make matters worse. In this view, any forced settlement, including regime change, will not be a stable one.

Moreover, Beijing has deep concerns over the precedent any military intervention might set, which it fears the U.S.-led Western powers could subsequently use to topple regimes they don’t like. Libya is a case in point. While China was not in favor of intervention there, it nonetheless abstained from voting on the Security Council resolution establishing a no-fly zone to protect civilians. To Beijing’s displeasure, the United States and NATO subsequently seized on a broad reading of the mandate and launched air strikes against the Libyan government, ultimately ousting the Gadhafi regime.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.