Explainer: why didn’t China send troops to help Kazakhstan? – Community News
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Explainer: why didn’t China send troops to help Kazakhstan?

BEIJING: China gave strong verbal support to the leader of Kazakhstan for his deadly crackdown on violent unrest, but stepped aside when Russia sent special forces.
Resource-rich Kazakhstan, on China’s western border, is of economic and strategic importance to Beijing and is a key link in its “Belt and Road” infrastructure initiative to expand its global trade and political influence in rivalry with the US and its allies.
China’s response to the crisis underscores how it prefers to influence outcomes with verbal pledges and offers of aid, without deploying troops.
“The growing proximity between Russia and China means we can expect more rhetorical support for Moscow’s foreign ventures, especially when they run counter to Western geostrategic goals,” said Rana Mitter, an expert on Oxford University China.
“However, China remains extremely reluctant to deploy People’s Liberation Army troops outside its own territory, except in areas such as UN peacekeeping operations, as it would contradict its continued statements that, unlike the US, China will not intervene in the conflicts of other countries,” said Mitter.
Since the demise of the Soviet Union, China has steadily expanded its economic and political influence in a region that Russia considers its own backyard. As the largest and by far the richest Central Asian state, Kazakhstan holds the key, acting as the buckle in China’s “Belt and Road” initiative, and its authoritarian politics acts as a bulwark against democratic movements in Ukraine and elsewhere that destroy China. mocked as Western-developed ‘color revolutions’.
The ruling Communist Party of China, which violently suppressed its own pro-democracy challenge in 1989, views such movements, in both Georgia and Hong Kong, as a threat to its own stability. In a message to Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev amid the turmoil, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said his country would “resolutely oppose external forces deliberately stirring up unrest and triggering a ‘color revolution’ in Kazakhstan.”
China’s position fits in seamlessly with its vehement opposition to outside criticism of its policies, whether it be its human rights record or its extensive territorial claims in the South China Sea, for meddling with its internal affairs.
However, China’s influence in Central Asia still has limits, and Kazakhstan may feel uncomfortable inviting Chinese troops, given China’s harsh treatment of ethnic Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities within its borders, said Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.
“An important part of China’s foreign policy under Xi is to make the world safe from authoritarian states and to stop the spread of color revolutions,” Tsang said.
WHEN will China intervene?
China regularly vows retaliation for any criticism of its policies, especially when the violators are the US and its allies. It is much kinder to autocrats and promises non-interference and cooperation with anyone in power, regardless of their record of human rights and corruption.
This is evident in dealing with regimes that criticize others, from Myanmar’s military leaders to Hungary’s Viktor Orban. While it does not recognize the Taliban, it is hedging its bets in Afghanistan by partnering with the country’s current rulers, despite their fondness for the form of radical Islam that has tried to prevent Beijing from infiltrating the troubled, largely Muslim Xinjiang region, which has a narrow border with Afghanistan and a much larger one with Kazakhstan.
China generally reserves action, military and otherwise, for cases where its own security is considered threatened, such as in the Korean War of 1950-53, or more recently in violent incidents along the disputed border with India, and especially with Taiwan. that China threatens an invasion if it does not unite. Beijing responded with ruthless trade and diplomatic retaliation against Lithuania when the small Baltic country broke with diplomatic conventions by allowing Taiwan to open a representative office in Vilnius under the name “Taiwan” instead of “Chinese Taipei”.
Troops, mostly from Russia, were sent to Kazakhstan last week by the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a grouping of six former Soviet states, at the request of the president amid unprecedented violence. China officially eschews such security alliances, although the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which dominates Beijing along with Moscow, has a security component, currently limited to joint training and other non-combat missions.
Unlike the CSTO, there is “no agreement on sending troops from SCO member countries,” said Chinese international security expert Li Wei. “In addition, China adheres to the fundamental principle of not using violence in other countries.”
UN peacekeeping operations remain the rare exception, and China is quick to point out that of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, it is the largest contributor to such missions.
Given the growing power of the Chinese military, some experts expect Beijing to become more receptive to military interventions in the future. Oxford’s Mitter also points to a growing “grey zone” of Chinese private security firms that can be used to protect Chinese interests “without any formal government intervention”.