II- Beijing's calculated prudence

23 October 2006 by Christine Chaumeau

China is keeping a polite distance from international criminal justice. Beijing is hardly disinterested, but China does want to make sure that these new global mechanisms are not going to infringe upon its sovereignty by delving into particularly sensitive cases such as Tibet. 

"Starting from the 1990s, we have seen limited change in the Chinese authorities' attitude toward issues of international justice," says Jean-Pierre Cabestan, Senior Researcher on China at France's national center for scientific research, the CNRS. "This has been a partial, cautious evolution with China still hostile to the slightest idea of interference in the domestic affairs of nations and hence, in China's own affairs." As a sign of this attitude, in 1993 China voted along with the other members of the United Nations Security Council to establish the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). One year later, it abstained on the vote concerning the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. China's vote can be explained in part by Rwanda's rejection of this tribunal and the lack of prior consultation with African countries, since China enjoys playing the role of leader among third world countries.

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