China and the responsibility to protect

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China and the responsibility to protect, Journal of Contemporary China, Volume 25, Issue 101.


This article investigates the Chinese government’s evolving policies toward the emerging global norm of ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P). While its principle of non-interference persists, Beijing has gradually acknowledged the responsibility to respond to humanitarian catastrophes in certain circumstances. Meanwhile, to ensure the concept’s limited application and reducing the instances where it might breach state sovereignty, Beijing actively participated in relevant debates to shape R2P in a direction that gives primacy to capacity-building and preventative measures. After examining how China engaged with the R2P in the recent crises in Darfur, Libya and Syria, the article argues, perceived threat from R2P upon its regime security explains Beijing’s continued efforts to constrain the norm’s development, while its aspiration for a status of responsible power encourages the Chinese government to engage with R2P more actively and flexibly. The case of R2P thus sheds new light on the complex interactions between China and the evolving global order.

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