Chinese Democracy

Well, not Chinese democracy, but Chinese opposition to genocide and anarchy in Africa, at least.

One of the Zimbabwe president’s oldest diplomatic friends, China yesterday told Lord Malloch Brown, the Foreign Office minister, that it was dropping all assistance except humanitarian aid.

The move follows a decision by China, a permanent member of the United Nations security council, to work more closely with the international community in bringing pressure to bear on “rogue regimes”. It represents a major shift in its previous policy of refusing to attack the internal policies of long-standing allies. …

In recent years, major construction projects and business deals between Zimbabwean and Chinese firms have been underwritten by Chinese state financing. China has also been a major supplier of arms including fighter jets as recently as 2005 and, it is reported, military trucks, weapons and ammunition as recently as last year.

But the coming Olympics, and the desire to deter protest between now and next year, have been a major factor in changing China’s stance.

It’s important not to oversell this— the events in Zimbabwe and Darfur may well be the very worst government-sponsored depredations currently taking place on the planet, indefensible by anyone.

That said, it is interesting to see China moving away from wholesale indifference to other countries’ internal governance.   I had been of the view that they would try to exert influence with complete indifference to human rights, but China does have its limits.

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