China has long adhered to a principle of ‘non-interference’ in other states’ affairs. However, as more of its companies have been investing in projects overseas, and millions of its nationals are travelling abroad, Beijing is finding itself progressively involved in other countries – through the need to protect these interests and citizens.
During the turmoil of the Arab Spring in 2011, China was compelled to evacuate more than 35,000 Chinese workers and expatriates from Libya, and later it led the hunt for the killers of 13 Chinese sailors in the Golden Triangle region of the Mekong River. In 2015, Beijing sent a combat battalion to join the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, where it has huge oil ventures. Its plans to construct a New Silk Road will mean new commercial endeavours to protect in Pakistan.
The shift in Chinese foreign policy towards a more interventionist approach abroad has not been the result of grand strategy, but an adjustment to unfolding events. The large risk appetite of state-owned Chinese business is inexorably drawing the Chinese state into security hotspots, and as China becomes a great power its people are openly calling on their government to protect compatriots caught in crises overseas, including via military means.
While much attention has focused on Beijing’s increasingly assertive behaviour in disputed Asian seas, this book highlights another equally important area of change, with potentially far-reaching consequences for international security.
‘The inherent complexity of China´s rise requires serious analysis of a range of issues. This detailed yet highly approachable volume unlocks an important but until now largely overlooked piece of this puzzle, Beijing’s mobilization in defense of its citizens and interests abroad. Through it a clearer picture of the direction and implications of China´s ascent materializes.’ Ana Palacio, former Spanish foreign minister and former Senior Vice President of the World Bank
‘This book adds greatly to our understanding of China’s complex and rapidly evolving engagement with the outside world. It presents a convincing thesis: that force of circumstance will oblige China to become a global power, regardless of its stated non-interventionist policy.’ Bill Emmott, author of Rivals: How the Power Struggle Between China, India and Japan Will Shape Our Next Decade; and former editor in chief, The Economist
‘A really significant and innovative book, demonstrating the risks that accompany China investing and sending workers abroad, and the necessity of a more interventionist policy to protect them.’ Shi Yinhong, Governmental advisor and Professor of International Relations, Renmin University of China
China's Strong Arm was launched on Friday 29 May on the sidelines of the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue.