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PacNet #20 – China’s Acquiescence on UNSCR 1973: No Big Deal

China’s abstention on the UN Security Council Resolution 1973 vote on March 17, 2011, which authorized all measures, including military action, against the Libyan government, surprised many in the West. Some believe that it represents a new direction for Chinese diplomacy, a deviation from China’s traditional principle of “non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs.” This interpretation is based on the belief that as China’s global interests expand and diversify, the internal affairs of other countries have increasingly become a concern of China’s overseas, especially commercial, interests. Therefore, China is slowly moving away from its non-interference principle and the abstention on UNSCR 1973 is a manifestation of that change. A careful review of Chinese considerations suggests that reading of the abstention is too ambitious.