CHINA'S leaders, although condemned abroad, wield more influence
in some areas of diplomacy than before their Army gunned down
pro-democracy activists in 1989, foreign policy analysts say.
Since the end of the cold war, Beijing has gone on the
diplomatic offensive and parlayed its primacy in Asia and veto
power at the United Nations into a growing role in the world's new
multipolar balance of power, according to diplomats and scholars.
China's potency abroad is rising even though it remains a
second-tier power with a comparatively small economy, a stifling
communist system, and a military that cannot reach far beyond its
borders. Developed democracies now deem the support of China
essential to arms control and stability in Cambodia, the Korean
Peninsula, and other hot spots.
Beijing has desperately built up its global influence in
response to its isolation after the Beijing massacre of 1989 and
the downfall of the Soviet Communist Party last August. It also
seeks to preempt the aggressive diplomacy of the rival Nationalist
government in Taiwan, the scholars and diplomats say.
"Since Tiananmen, China has gone from being the pursued in
international relations to being the pursuer," a Western diplomat
Yet as China carries more weight abroad, it increasingly will be
influenced by foreign ideas and reliant on overseas markets, goods,
and capital. Foreign ideas and economic interdependence will
gradually help to compel China's hard-line leadership toward
cooperative diplomacy and moderate politics at home, the scholars
and diplomats say.
China is unwittingly accelerating its evolution toward political
moderation by using its new diplomatic influence to achieve its
primary aim of strengthening its economy. It is boosting trade and
luring foreign investment and technology.
Already, nearly one-third of China's gross national product is
linked to overseas trade, a level unthinkable just a few years ago.
Political forces are also taming Beijing's behavior overseas. In
particular, China can no longer take advantage of a superpower
rivalry by trafficking in weapons, ballistic missiles, and nuclear
technology. Developed countries expect it to adopt standards in
arms sales, trade, and human rights that are commensurate with its
new diplomatic heft.
"China sees with growing horror an emerging international
consensus on human rights, arms deals, and the parameters for
economic and trade issues," another Western diplomat says.
China resists efforts by the West to "integrate it into the
world community" and is a reluctant and sometimes hostile partner
on global security issues. Beleaguered by the collapse of
communism, China considers efforts by developed states to promote
peace part of a conspiracy to coerce it toward capitalism and
China is using its leverage overseas to oppose the growing
United States domination of world politics. Beijing worries that it
will lose its diplomatic freedom and control over domestic affairs
in a new world order orchestrated by the US. …