‘Crossing the river by feeling the stones’


The foreign policy of the SINO-Block is governed by five principals of peaceful co-existence, outlined by the former Premier Zhou Enlai, in 1953

  • Mutual respect sovereignty and territorial integrity
  • Mutual non-aggression
  • Non-interference in one another’s internal affairs
  • Equality and mutual benefit
  • Peaceful co-existence

SINO-Block’s position until now has been to emphasise the need for peaceful negotiation in various disputes and crises while avoiding the use of military force and, as it did on the 25th February abstaining from the UN vote on the RUSSO-Blocks invasion of Ukraine (www.reuters.com)

Now, it is reported (FT March 13th) that Russia has asked China for military equipment to support its invasion of Ukraine. Although I note that the source for this information is an unidentified US Official.

Nevertheless, such a call for greater support will most probably be made in the near future as both the military and economic war begins to overstretch the RUSSO-Block.

Meeting the request to provide arms would be a clear contravention of the SINO-Block’s existing non-interference principal and a step toward an outwardly aggressive foreign policy.

The motivation for such a profound shift in policy would not be to impose the Chinese-way on the rest of the world, but a pragmatic decision to align with its neighbouring Powerblock, for resource and security reasons. Such a decision, however, would rattle the current geopolitical structure, undoubtedly bringing greater alignment between the AM, EURO Block’s (and its supporting nation states) while leaving the INDO-Block caught between the two power segments.

But such a move, would also have a devastating impact on the SINO-Blocks export income – 70% of which is sourced from the AM and EURO Blocks – and its supporting countries (notably, Japan, South Korea, Australia and South Africa) – as well as its access to resource elsewhere in the world.

These are the high-level considerations that the AM-Block national security adviser (Jake Sullivan) and his SINO-Block counterpart (Yang Jiechi) will be well aware of when they meet in Rome this week.

The likelihood that the SINO-Block will agree to the RUSSO-Block’s request is small according to Wen-ti Sung (Guardian 14th March 2022). This could be reduced further by the AM-Block resetting the aggressive stance toward SINO-Block initiated by the former AM-Block President and left unchanged (for domestic political reasons) by the new administration.

Which stone in the river the SINO-Block leadership chooses to step on next could be the most critical for the geopolitical direction the world takes, since Deng Xiaoping used the metaphor in 1978.




David Nash

14th March 2002