Hypocrisy in International Relations - China, BRICS and Africa Maintaining Balance

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Published Apr 22, 2024


Jaya Josie, Advisor China Africa Center Zhejiang University International Business School (ZIBS), Adjunct Professor, University of the Western Cape (UWC) and University of Venda (UniVen)

The world is currently confronted with several regional crises and teetering on the brink of another world war. Africa is in the throes of conflicts in the Sahel region, North Africa, Central, East and Southern Africa.

In the middle East there is a raging war of occupation launched by Israel against Palestinians in Gaza that is described as genocidal in form and content. Following the alleged bombing of the Iranian Consulate in Syria killing Iranian officials, on 13 April Iran for the first time, launched a massive barrage of missiles and drones against Israel.

In the Ukraine Russia’s special military operation has taken on the character of a full-scale war with Russia arguing that its invasion is to stop the eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that was agreed to between Russia and the USA in the early 1990s.

Recently a massive terrorist attack was launched against a concert hall in Moscow with civilians attending a musical show. Many were killed and Russia accused the Ukraine authorities of orchestrating the terrorist operation. In Asia there are growing tensions between the USA and China over the American arming of Taiwan, and disputes over the South China sea between China and the Philippines and the US involvement in the dispute.

The common thread in all these conflictual flashpoints is the United States and Western European perception that their political and economic spheres of influence is coming under threat from the emergence of new centres of power in the Global South.

The new centre of power is in the form of the growing spheres of influence of both China and Russia in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.

Tensions are rising as Israel launches an attack on Iran and Iraq suffers a massive explosion not far from Bagdad. In the meantime, USA congress just passed legislation for military and other aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan as the conflicts in these areas risk plunging the world into another world war.

In the UN Security Council, the USA vetoed a resolution that would give UN recognition to membership of the Palestinian State arguing that it was not the right time for considering such a move. This is not the first time that the USA has vetoed such a resolution under a similar pretext, in 2011, the US also vetoed a similar resolution offering similar reasons.

Despite its so-called support for two-state solution and the death toll in the Gaza reaching almost 34000 civilians, mostly children and women and, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, suffering a humanitarian crisis, the US exercised its veto, and yet passed a law that would continue to arm Israel.

In a recent interview on Aljazeera TV program, called Upfront, Jeffery Sachs, Professor from Columbia University in New York, characterised the US position as hypocritical. In the same interview Sachs highlighted China’s position as a peacemaker that started a reproachment among countries in the middle east such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Iran that, until recently, had serious geopolitical tensions and conflicts with each other.

Today all these countries are members of the expanded BRICS group and are all outraged by Israel’s actions against Palestinians.

When Israel took the stand to speak at the UN Security Council meeting to vote on recognition of the state of Palestine most members from the Arab world walked out in protest.

The tensions over the war in Gaza was initially addressed by South Africa taking Israel to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) calling Israel’s invasion of the strip a plausible genocide act against the Palestinian population. Recent events in the Gaza and the West Bank have shown the extent of massacres, famine and horrific acts against women and children in the Gaza.

Even western countries that have sided with Israel are shocked at the brutality of the bombing and killing of innocent women and children; the destruction of health and educational institutions; the denial of humanitarian aid to the starving population and, the uncovering of mass graves in the occupied territory.

Many of them are calling for an immediate ceasefire.

In testimony before the ICJ on 22 February 2024 China’s legal advisor Ma Xinmin made a statement reiterating the position of China before the ICJ, ";China has consistently supported the just cause of the Palestinian people in restoring their legitimate right… The Palestinian-Israeli conflict stems from Israel's prolonged occupation of Palestinian territory and Israel's longstanding oppression of the Palestinian people…Our state is obliged to promote the realization of the right to self-determination and to refrain from any forceful action, which deprives people of that right. In pursuit of their right to self-determination, … people have the right to engage in struggles, seek and receive support on the basis of that right…In pursuit of the right to self-determination, Palestinian people's use of force to resist foreign oppression and complete the establishment of an independent state is an inalienable right, well-founded in international law… Numerous UN General Assembly resolutions recognize the legitimacy of struggle by all available means, including armed struggle, by peoples under colonial domination or foreign occupation, to realize the right to self-determination… Armed struggle in this context is distinguished from acts of terrorism. It is grounded in international law. This distinction is acknowledged by several international conventions." (24.02.2024 Middle East Media Research Institute https://www.memri.org/reports/chinese-foreign-ministry-legal-adviso).

China’s position on justice and respect for the rights of the Palestinian people; Russia’s right to defend it territorial integrity against NATO encroachment and, the possibility of the western world doing the same with the longstanding One China Policy agreement was met with hostility despite acceptance of the same rights for countries that fall within the western sphere of influence.

The same is true with respect for China’s right to trade with its partners within the BRICs, the Eurasian Economic Community and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

At the G7 meeting held recently the US Secretary of State indicated that during his forthcoming visit to China he will raise the issue of China’s trade with Russia.

This statement comes in the wake of the USA Congress vote supporting legislation to finance Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other countries to the tune of US$61 billion. Yet the USA threatens China with consequences for following its policy of peaceful co-existence and neutrality in areas of conflict.

Implicitly these double standards smacks of a level of geopolitical hypocrisy. In other words standards that apply to western bloc countries cannot apply to countries from the global south unless they are client states of the western bloc.

China dismissed the warnings to Chinese companies from Washington and reiterated its right to protect its interests from foreign interference. Since its founding China has adhered to what has become known as it’s five principles of mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and co-operation for mutual benefit, and peaceful co-existence.

This year China will celebrate seventy years of adopting the five principles. These principles speak to China’s respect for International Law and the sanctity of the UN, its agencies, and their resolutions as binding on all nations.