February 16th, 2012
01:00 PM ET

China's troubling Syria veto

Editor's Note: Joel Wuthnow is a Fellow in the China and the World Program in the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. He is completing a book manuscript on China's diplomacy at the U.N. Security Council. 

By Joel Wuthnow, The Diplomat

China’s veto of a draft U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria was important not only for the outcome it produced, which was a failure of the Council to address escalating violence in that country. It also reflected a diminished willingness by Beijing to heed international opinion as it makes decisions in the world body. This should be a focus of concern as China’s next president, Xi Jinping, is visiting the U.S., and in continued interactions between Washington and Beijing.

As Minxin Pei has pointed out, two factors led to China’s veto. First is a growing strategic alignment between China and Russia, in which the two coordinate positions in the Council so that neither will be isolated, thus forming an “axis of obstruction” vis-à-vis the West. Second is a wariness about fomenting democratic protests, which Beijing fears may embolden anti-government actors within its own borders. The experience of the Arab Spring lies behind, and buttresses, both of these factors. FULL POST

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Topics: China • United Nations