Barack Obama’s ascent to the US presidency saw the superpower advocating a new humility in international relations. The sentiment seems to be catching on. On Thursday, China’s government released a policy paper that promised to do more towards building friendly relations with neighbours. A defence ministry spokesman asserted: “...no matter how developed China is, China will never seek hegemony or pursue expansionist policies.” Is the dragon turning tame?
To be sure, predicting China’s foreign policy is like playing blind man’s bluff. But Beijing’s gun-slinging hasn’t done it too many favours. In fact, as Washington re-engages in Asia, China’s growing military spread and the territorial disputes it insists on fanning are pushing its lesser neighbours into the US’ arms.
In this scenario, a “light touch” makes eminent strategic sense. Humility has never been China’s forte. But shrewd policy moves are a different matter altogether.