By Yiyi Chen | Director - Institute for Hebrew and Jewish Studies at Peking University
Middle East Institute - May 06, 2015
In June 1954, the leaders of China, India, and Burma (now Myanmar) issued a joint statement affirming the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence―mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence―as the basis for conducting international relations. Since then, China has adhered strictly to the principle of non-interference in other countries’ domestic turmoil, as displayed prominently over the past several years in Beijing’s response to the Syrian civil war.
However, this is not true in the shuttle diplomacy China is practicing with respect to the conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan. There, Chinese state-owned enterprises (mainly the China National Petroleum Company) have invested heavily in the oil fields of Sudan for decades, and in the oil infrastructure of South Sudan since its independence in 2011. China’s “crossing the water by feeling the stones” style of changing its non-interference policy is happening not just in Sudan but also in many other parts of Africa and, on a smaller scale, in other parts of the world.