Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Larger World Role Forces China to Moderate Policies at Home FOREIGN RELATIONS

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Larger World Role Forces China to Moderate Policies at Home FOREIGN RELATIONS

Article excerpt

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 says.

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 democracy.

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. …

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