AAS Annual Meeting

China and Inner Asia Session 424

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Session 424: China and the World I

Being Liberal: Does a liberal China Matter for World Politics?
Xiaoming Huang, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

There is a growing body of literature that claims China’s international policy is moving increasingly in liberal directions. Much of these works though concentrate on the emerging patterns of China’s interaction with the international system, and with international institutions in particular. Being liberal in this context is framed primarily with liberal institutionalism associated with the works of Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye from the 1980s. A key indicator here is whether China takes a collaborative, stakeholder approach or a more traditional, zero-sum approach to international institutions, and whether China subjects itself to the constraints of international institutions in pursuing its national interests. Labeling China’s international policy as liberal or non liberal as such can be misleading. Liberalism, as Michael Doyle has interpreted for us, looks at liberal states and how they affect war and peace in world politics. To understand the changing nature of China’s international policy, we need not only to understand how China interacts with international institutions, but why. And more importantly, how the new trends in China’s international policy and behavior relate to the dominant forces, interests and values in China and indeed to its emergent political, economic, and social system, however transitional it might be. This paper takes the latter as the primary focus of enquiry. It does not argue that China is a liberal state and therefore peaceful, or vice versa. Rather it calls our attention to the gaps in the current discourse of liberal institutionalism on China. The framework of liberalism vs realism, the paper argues, seems insufficient to explain the fluid, dynamic and even ambiguous nature of the dominant forces and interests in China.

A Brief History of China in Afghanistan
Jonathan Z. Ludwig, Rice University, USA

China and Afghanistan have shared a common regional history for millennia and a formal shared border since the British imposition of the Wakhan Corridor in 1895. Nevertheless, formal Sino-Afghan relations extend only from 1950, when Afghanistan was one of the earliest countries to recognize the PRC, with China responding in 1955. This paper first presents these early years, the resulting treaties, and trade pacts. It then discusses the difficulties China had in balancing their interests in keeping Afghanistan out of the Soviet fold while not disrupting their relationship with Pakistan, especially during periods of intense Afghan-Pakistani animosity, often over the issue of Pashtunistan and regional trade access. Tense Sino-Afghan relations continued through Daud’s 1973 pro-Soviet coup, but returned to normal by 1975. The paper then turns to the role China played after the 1979 Soviet invasion, when it was one of many nations to channel aid to the mujahedin through Pakistan. China kept out of Afghanistan after the 1989 Soviet retreat and throughout the Afghan civil war; however, rumors persist that the Chinese provided the Taliban regime with telecommunications technology in 2000. The paper then turns to the present day, tracing China’s role in reconstruction efforts, including their work with the Parwan irrigation project, telecommunications infrastructure, and the Aynak copper field. The paper concludes with a discussion of China’s future in Afghanistan and asks whether their actions represent a true effort to rebuild the country or are simply a form of economic colonialism.

The Changing Politics of Peacekeeping: China’s impact on United Nations peacekeeping
Ivan W. Rasmussen, Tufts University, USA

United Nations peacekeeping is the most highly politicized of human rights activities as both the intervention in the name and preservation of those rights. The changing nature of UN peacekeeping has seen an exponential increase in Chinese participation. While most commentators seek to explain Chinese motivations, I will examine the impact of increased Chinese participation in UN peace operations. The following study includes an analysis of the Chinese role in the two key areas of peacekeeping: UN Security Council voting on peace operations and the construction of peace operation mandates. Using both quantitative (abstaining versus voting) and qualitative (case examples of Chinese peacekeeping) evidence, there is a possibility of creating a unique study of the way in which peace operations can be altered by the new participation of a major international actor. The cases to be examined include Chinese role with respect to UN peacekeeping in the Sudan and in East Timor. Each of these cases challenge the idea that China has a narrow focus on sovereignty in international affairs. I hypothesize that, through a feedback loop, China has begun to impact and structure the international discourse on peacekeeping with an increased emphasis on national sovereignty along with less robust missions. I do not expect to explain Chinese behavior with respect to peacekeeping as the opaqueness of state decision-making is beyond the scope of this study. Instead I wish to explain Chinese impact on UN peace ops with an attention to the fundamental dilemmas facing peace operations: political will ambivalence and mandate ambiguity.

The Politics of China’s Space Cooperation: Brazil and South Africa in Comparative Perspective
Marco Cepik, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

This paper aims to explain the People’s Republic of China international cooperation policies regarding outer space activities. To achieve such goal, the first step is to analyze China’s multilateral initiatives in the global context of United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNOOSA), as well as in the regional context of the recently established Asian-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO), which was created in Beijing in December 2008 by Bangladesh, China, Iran, Mongolia, Pakistan, Peru and Thailand. The second step is to consider the strategic goals of selected China’s space programs, particularly in the fields of imaging satellites, navigation (Beidou and Compass), communication, data relay, and micro and nano satellites. Finally, the bilateral cooperation with regional powers outside Asia will be studied for additional evidence of strategic rationale and practical limits. In the case of Brazil there is prior space cooperation with China since 1988, both in launch services as well as meteorological and imaging satellite development (CBERS). South Africa fully re-entered the international space politics arena in 2009, after the establishment of its ambitious new National Space Policy. South Africa’s most important international partner is currently Russia, but China’s growing presence in Africa is also reflected in recent scientific and industrial agreements with South Africa. Leadership in space is one of requirements for greater international status. These three interconnected researches will support a better understanding of why and how China desires to fulfill this requirement.