Why China Will Back Assad—Until it Won’t

Why China Will Back Assad—Until it Won’t

Posted in the Chicago Forum

The New Yorker

Matawan, NJ

#1 Sep 4, 2013
Why China Will Back Assad—Until it Won’t
Posted by Evan Osnos

In vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria for the third time, China and Russia have tested Western diplomats’ capacity for creative contempt. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton already described their veto as “despicable” back in February. This time, U.N. ambassador Susan Rice settled on “dangerous and deplorable.” Britain said it was “appalled,” and ambassador Mark Lyall Grant singled out Moscow and Beijing for having “chosen to put their national interests ahead of the lives of millions of Syrians.”

Curiously, you won’t find many at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs who disagree with that assessment. Indeed, China has its own interests at heart. It is tempting to misread the veto on several levels: Is it a sign, as some in Washington imagine, of deepening ties between Russia and China? No.(Rarely have two neighboring powers had less trust and affection for each other.) Is it because of Chinese leaders’ deep connection to Bashar al-Assad? Not exactly. Rather, China’s actions on Syria must be understood as part of a growing sense in Beijing that its world view is under assault from the West.

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