Southern California

International Review
Volume 5, Number 2 • Fall 2015

Southern California International Review
scir.org

Staff
Editor-in-Chief:
Aaron Rifkind
Deputy Editor-in-Chief:
Reid Thom
Editors:
Peter Hughes
SarahBelle Selig

Katie McDowell
Anna Merzi

Patrick Vossler

The Southern California International Review (SCIR) is a bi-annual interdisciplinary print and online journal of scholarship in the field of international
studies generously funded by the School of International Relations at the
University of Southern California (USC). In particular, SCIR would like
to thank the Robert L. Friedheim Fund and the USC SIR Alumni Fund.
Founded in 2011, the journal seeks to foster and enhance discussion between
theoretical and policy-oriented research regarding significant global issues.
SCIR is managed completely by students and also provides undergraduates
valuable experience in the fields of editing and graphic design.

Copyright © 2015 Southern California International Review.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any
form without the express written consent of the Southern California International
Review.
Views expressed in this journal are solely those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily
represent those of the editorial board, faculty advisors, or the University of Southern California.

ISSN: 1545-2611

We dedicate this journal to those affected by the violence in Syria and
victims of terrorism across the world.
This journal is also dedicated to the outgoing University of Southern
California School of International Relations Director, Robert D. English.
Thank you for your unwaivering support over the years.

Contents

1.

Spending Spree
Security and Sino-Indian Maritime Infrastructure Investments in the
Indian Ocean
Michael Sliwinski

10

2.

Internet Censorship and Strategic Signaling
Cyber-Nationalism in China During the 2012 Sino-Japanese Senkaku
Islands Dispute
Jackie, Siu-Hei Wong

22

3.

Towards Mature Justice
Expanding the Mandate of the International Criminal Court’s
Independent Oversight Mechanism
Emily Tsui

58

4.

China’s Parallel Grand Strategy
Roads Toward Hegemony Through an Emerging Military Presence in Africa
Alexander Bobroske

72

Editor’s Note:
Dear Reader,
It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the tenth edition of the Southern California
International Review (SCIR). This semester’s issue continues our mission of providing a
platform for undergraduate scholars of international affairs to provide their work to a larger
audience.
We were incredibly fortunate to have over forty articles to select from. Our editors spent
tedious hours pouring over submissions from all across the country and several from
throughout the world. Of the many impressive submissions, the following four stood out to
be outstanding. In reading this journal, you will understand why.
In the creation of this issue, the SCIR is extremely appreciative of the supportive role that
the University of Southern California’s School of International Relations has played. The
school’s outgoing director, Robert English, the Associate Director, Linda Cole, and the rest
of the faculty and staff gave us the guidance we needed to grow. As always, I extend our
thanks to Ms. Robin Friedheim for her generous scholarship that provides the foundation
upon which our endeavor thrives.
As China reaches global hegemony, many scholars have taken note of the country’s actions
across the world. Three of the four articles in this edition of the SCIR discuss China’s growing
importance in different regions. From China’s relations with India in the South China Sea
to the country’s censorship of protests over the Senkaku Islands dispute and relations with
Africa, three authors have tackled these complicated and often-controversial issues. The
fourth article marks a departure from the other three and argues for more transparency in
the International Criminal Court.
I would like to thank you, the reader, since without you, we are nothing. I invite you to read
on, and remember that this journal is just one part of a much larger dialogue.
Please read, ponder, explore and enjoy.
Sincerely,
Aaron Rifkind
Editor-in-Chief

Spending Spree

Security and Sino-Indian Maritime Infrastructure
Investments in the Indian Ocean
Michael Sliwinski

The military order of the Indian Ocean is a critical policy focus for the world, particularly
India and China. This study elaborates on a less-explored method of power projection: infrastructural developmental aid, particularly maritime infrastructural investments. Chinese and
Indian investment in ports across the Indian Ocean demonstrate a spending race to secure naval replenishment arrangements and influence over the domestic political decision-making of
recipient states. Explaining the actions of China and India will shed light on the gains to their
Indian Ocean agendas as well as their positive and negative effects on the other states and on
broader regional security.

Introduction

The Indian Ocean comprises one-fifth of the total ocean area in the world. At over 28
million square miles, it is home to numerous states and islands from the east coast of Africa to the edge of Southeast Asia, with the Indian subcontinent bounding it to the north.1
Trade routes crisscross this massive area, especially those emerging from the Middle East
by way of the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf and moving west towards the Americas and
east towards East Asia. Historically, inhabitants and expeditious outsiders traversed the
Indian Ocean extensively for trade and exploration, bringing a degree of cultural exchange
and the national agendas of those exploring. In the modern era, though, it has been sufficiently explored; the waters and coastal areas of the Indian Ocean remain a busy forum
in which many internal and external players interact and sometimes clash.
The initiatives taken by the People’s Republic of China in recent years have demonstrated a keen awareness of the value of the Indian Ocean and demonstrate how China’s
expanding national identity manifests itself in diplomacy and security policy. Its efforts
to navigate the waters and visit the states of the Indian Ocean have not gone unnoticed
by the central power of the region—India. Due to its proximity in the Indian Ocean,
India has felt the effects of China’s expanding voyages into the Indian Ocean over the past
30 years as China transitioned from a fledgling power to a confident nation with strong
regional influence in politics, economics and security. The two nations, who share both a
strong trade relationship as well as border disputes, face a challenge in cooperating with

1 

Philomene A. Verlaan, “Indian Ocean,” Encyclopaedia Britanica, Encyclopaedia Britanica Inc. 2015.

Michael Sliwinski is a senior at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of
Foreign Service studying International Politics concentrating in International
Security with a Certificate in Asian Studies.

Spending Spree

11

each other and the states surrounding the Indian Ocean.
The security interactions between China and India fluctuate between competition
and cooperation as both nations expand their military capabilities and pursue strategic
doctrine. In a material sense, it is easy to predict that the nations will be competitive in
pursuing a stronger military presence in the Indian Ocean. Yet there is more to the security balance between the two regional powers than the number of guns or boats stationed
in the Indian Ocean. This paper will focus on explaining a less-explored component of
strength and influence: the field of infrastructural development aid, specifically, the effects of maritime infrastructural investments on military security relations. Chinese and
Indian maritime infrastructure investments in ports across the Indian Ocean demonstrate
a spending race to secure viable naval replenishment arrangements and, more broadly,
influence over the domestic political decision-making of recipient states. Investigating and
explaining the actions of China and India will shed light on the potential gains that each
nation has to make through their Indian Ocean agendas as well as their impact on surrounding states and regional security.

China: Seizing the Initiative

In recent years, China has faced great criticism for its expansionist policies in the
South China Sea. Others staunchly oppose China’s direct presence in the area, threatened
by the diplomatic implication that China is claiming ownership. Yet China’s intentions in
the Indian Ocean are decidedly murk. China does not declare any territory in the region
on historical or strategic grounds.
Several theories have tried to explain China’s grand strategy in the Indian Ocean. The
first discussed herein originated in a 2005 report from Booz Allen Hamilton, a defense
consultancy in the U.S. The firm identified China’s interest in visiting and developing
various ports across the Indian Ocean as aiming to construct a “string of pearls” to project
naval power and constrict Indian efforts to rise as a regional competitor.2 Consistent with
the fears of the rising superpower, media rhetoric so frequently casts China’s initiatives as
aggressive, competitive and disruptive to stability—to the extent that it has been associated with actual Chinese policy.3
The Chinese government did not adopt a cohesive strategy to explain its involvement
in the Indian Ocean until 2014, when President Xi Jinping announced his “Maritime Silk
Road” initiative.4 The language is markedly different and symbolically demonstrative; instead of a string of pearls strangling and encircling the Indian Ocean, the concept borrows
2  Siyu Yang, “The Pearl Harbors: China’s Port Diplomacy,” China Hands: The Huffington Post Online, last modified 23 April
2015.
3  The Chinese government does not officially refer to its strategy in the Indian Ocean as aiming to build a “string of pearls.”
4  Ibid.

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Michael Sliwinski

from the historical Silk Road, an overland trade route that was a major corridor for the
earliest commerce and cultural exchange between East and West. The notion is that this
distinctly Chinese idea is a constructive contribution to the region can be utilized by all in
a mutually beneficial fashion. This rebranding characterizes the disparate views of China’s
motivations to expand its presence in the Indian Ocean, but both sides agree that China
has taken the initial action. From a doctrinal standpoint, China has a strategic advantage
that it can use to explain its actions as peacefully diplomatic.
The concrete evidence of China’s approach to building its “Maritime Silk Road”
displays an unprecedented investment agenda, with billions of dollars being poured
into ports across the Indo-Pacific region to fund the building and renovation of port
infrastructure. Two ports in Sri Lanka have received particular attention: Colombo and
Hambantota. In 2014, two Chinese submarine dockings in Colombo, including one which
coincided with the visit of the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, sent ripples through
the diplomatic community.5 India criticized its close neighbor for what it saw as a disruption of peace and a step towards increased militarization of the Indian Ocean while a
spokesperson for the Chinese military dismissed criticisms of the act, which the Chinese viewed as a routine “technical docking.”6 Additionally, the submarine docked at the
Colombo South Container Terminal, controlled by a Chinese company, China Merchants
Holdings (International), rather than the Sri Lanka Port Authority, the traditional docking
for military vessels.7 Though the purpose or even legality of this action is unclear, the Sri
Lankan government under President Rajapaksa signaled its willingness to deal with China
by tolerating this docking.8
With the change in presidency in early 2015, the new President Sirisena took a less
accommodating line to submarine dockings but still approved a $1.4 billion investment
in the Colombo Port City development project from China.8 This plan included a land
transfer of 108 hectares next to the main commercial port of Colombo, held by the China
Communications Construction Co. Ltd. on a split outright/99-year lease basis.9 Economic incentives also explain China’s controlling stake at Hambantota Port, where “Sri
Lanka agreed to grant Chinese state-owned companies operating rights to four berths in
exchange for an easing of loan conditions.”10 This demonstrates how China supplemented
5  Abhijit Singh, “A ‘PLA-N’ for Chinese maritime bases in the Indian Ocean,” Center for Strategic and International Studies,
Washington, D.C., last modified January 26, 2015.
6  “China Denies Reports to set up 18 Naval Bases in Indian Ocean,” The Economic Times; India, last modified November 27,
2014.
7  Singh 2015.
8  Ankit Panda, “Sri Lanka May Bar Port Visits by Chinese Marine,” The Diplomat, last modified March 3, 2015.
9  Shihar Aneez, “Sri Lanka reviews land transfer to China as port deal draws scrutiny,” Reuters, last modified February 20,
2015.
10  Singh 2015.

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13

its security agenda with development and economic efforts and signaled that political
hesitation could give way to development investment.
Other potential partners in China’s investment efforts appear to be even less politically conflicted in receiving development aid from China. This is the case with Pakistan,
whose relationship with China was reaffirmed by efforts to build and invest in infrastructure in the cash-strapped state. Most notably, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s April 2015
visit to Pakistan came with a rather warm hospitality gift—$46 billion for infrastructural
development across the country, including continued investments in the ports of Gwadar
and Karachi.11 Gwadar in particular has been the beneficiary of Chinese investments for
over a decade, with the China Overseas Ports Holding Company taking operational control in 2013 for the next 40 years.12
Evidence suggests that China’s large stakes in Gwadar are focused on elevating the
port to a “dual-use base.” The principle behind this concept is that, by assisting in the
construction of a modern developed port, “a powerful nation like China has the ability to upgrade a commercial port to support military operations in conflict scenarios
and even use it as a cover for construction of secret munitions stockpiles and other port
infrastructure.”13 Such arrangements may be less likely found in port projects of uncooperative states like Sri Lanka but are conceivable in states with a policy alignment or pressure
from the Chinese to take advantage of aid. Gwadar and Karachi in Pakistan, Chittagong in
Bangladesh and perhaps non-funded agreements, including those between China and the
Seychelles, could all fit this model. This notion is buttressed by Chinese arms sales to Pakistan as well as Bangladesh, with Pakistan purchasing six nuclear-powered subs in 2014
and Bangladesh receiving three refurbished Ming-class vessels in 2019.14 These initiatives
can be seen as China’s dedication to empowering states and maintaining regional security
as well as suggesting that India may not be the sole guarantor of stability in the Indian
Ocean.
The Chinese government has a clear and executable strategy for engagement in the
Indian Ocean, as the Maritime Silk Road is the impetus for increased attention to ports
throughout the Indian Ocean. Instead of permanent military presence as expected by
India, China has taken advantage of dual-use bases and economic leverage. As a result,
China could easily maintain rhetorical consistency between its claims of not maintaining foreign bases and fulfilling its strategic aim of having a point of operations in a crisis
contingency. In other words, China would not need any foreign bases if friendly ports can
11  Keith Johnson, “China Invests Billions in Its ‘All-Weather Friendship’ With Pakistan,” Foreign Policy, last modified April 15,
2015.
12 Ibid.
13  Singh 2015.
14  Jack Detsch, “China Boosts Submarine Fleets for Indian Ocean Allies,” The Diplomat, last modified February 13, 2015.

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14

be easily converted to serve that purpose. Through its proactive investing in the Indian
Ocean, China has seized the initiative and claims a certain advantage in projecting its security objectives in a concerted way that has been overlooked in its Indian Ocean strategy.

India: On the Defensive

For India, the Indian Ocean is a central focus of policy and security. Surrounded on
three sides by its waters, it must protect a wide coastline accessible to the myriad nations
and islands in its periphery. Beyond the geographical considerations weighing on the
Indian government, there is a strong cultural notion bounding the Indian outlook over the
ocean: India perceives the Indian Ocean as its own, first and foremost. Any other powers
jockeying to influence the region, then, would be viewed as intruding on India’s mare nostrum. Naturally, globalization has necessitated an easing-up on this view of exclusivity, but
these deep-seated notions are not easily dispelled. Ultimately, India has an active approach
to Indian Ocean relations, but the country must balance its assertiveness and cooperation
in the geopolitical sphere.
China’s strategy outlined above serves as a very agitating challenge to India. As far
as reacting to direct military presence in the Indian Ocean, it is easy for India to criticize
China’s expanding presence; the Indian Ocean is, after all, by not controlled by China.
Even multilateral efforts like anti-piracy campaigns in the Gulf of Aden may be viewed
pessimistically by India as a pretense for China’s immediate presence in the Ocean and
longer-term investments in regional ports for refueling its navy.
The larger problem for India is not the presence of the ships themselves or even the
favor curried through Chinese aid initiatives. It is the noticeable lack of a regional strategy
on par with China’s “Maritime Silk Road.” This strategy has given China a guide for how
to go about fostering its overt economic goals in the region and its more tacit security
objectives. In contrast, there are concerns in the Indian government, particularly under
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that “continentalism” has distracted India’s attention
from Indian Ocean affairs with border disputes and other land-based security concerns.15
Modi’s efforts to revive the 2003 notion of “Sagar Mala” which is related to engagement
with political actors in the Indian Ocean, have yet to solidify into a tangible strategy and
may at best be an effort to mimic China’s own “Maritime Silk Road” idea.16 Other ideas
from Indian leadership, like an Indian Ocean Zone of Peace, may have been inspired by
similarly-named ASEAN efforts to avoid increased regional militarization. Likewise, similar to ASEAN’s Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN), it can serve to diplomatically cloak an effort to exclude Chinese military presence in a broad agreement.17 If
15  C Raja Mohan, “Modi’s Sagar Mala.” Indian Express Online: The Indian Express Ltd., last modified March 11, 2015.
16 Ibid.
17  Singh 2015.

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this is the case, there remains little promise for this to be the grand strategy India needs—
one needs only look to ZOPFAN’s ineffectiveness at precluding Chinese maritime activity
in Southeast Asia to cast doubt on the prospects of such broadly-principled approaches in
the Indian Ocean.
It appears that, at least in recent years and for the immediate future, the only strategic
approach gaining traction in India is reacting to China’s initiatives with investment plans
of their own. The posts India may pursue around the region may not be critical to India’s
power projection, but competition for these islands with China can justify Indian efforts
to secure these allies. While unoriginal, there is no reason to see this approach as less
effective than China’s aid disbursement strategy and indeed the logic is much the same.
By directing substantial sums of infrastructural investment to ports, states, and islands
around the Indian Ocean, India can earn trust and leverage to utilize these posts for their
own strategic benefit.
Returning to the example of Sri Lanka, successful calls from the Indian government
to preclude China from accessing Sri Lanka’s ports with its naval vessels signal reluctance
on Sri Lanka’s part to depart from one of its traditionally-close allies in favor of a regional
newcomer.18 India has followed up by funding development projects in the north of the
island, including “the construction of a power plant, 27,000 new homes, and a hospital;
the dredging of the war-devastated Kankesanthurai port; and the reconstruction of the
Northern Railway Line.”19 Even the geographic concentration of many of these projects
in the northern part of Sri Lanka, compared to China’s efforts in the southern ports of
Colombo and Hambantota, indicates a keen awareness of specific Indian aid. Similarly,
in spite of historically close relations with China, India appears to be courting Myanmar
through financial support for the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, including “Sittwe, one of Myanmar’s busiest ports, [receiving] an Indian-sponsored facelift to the
tune of $100 million.”20 Just as India ought to be mindful of Chinese overtures to traditionally Indian-aligned allies, so too should China be aware that its friends in the Indian
Ocean are not necessarily averse to exploring new relationships with India.
India can easily orchestrate alignment with certain nations; the Maldives, for example, situated just off the tip of the Indian subcontinent, are understandably inclined
to maintain positive diplomatic relations with their large neighbor—though it should be
noted that they too agreed to allow Chinese vessels into their ports for refueling.21 It is
possible that this has been less problematic to India than Sri Lanka’s leniency due to the
18  Panda 2015.
19  Nilanthi Samaranayake, “India’s Key to Sri Lanka: Maritime Infrastructure Development,” The Diplomat, last modified
March 31, 2015.
20  Jack Detsch, “The Mixed Consequences of Sino-Indian Competition in the Indian Ocean,” The Diplomat, last modified
January 28, 2015.
21 Ibid.

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Maldives’ relatively low military strength and the lower impact of Chinese involvement in
the long run.
Other small island nations in the southwestern Indian Ocean, particularly Mauritius
and the Seychelles, have similar inclinations to uphold their standing alignment with Indian policy. Already home to Indian listening stations, Modi’s recent tour of Mauritius and
the Seychelles has come with more dedications of infrastructural aid. India will be upgrading sea and air links on the remote Agalega islands of Mauritius, including refurbishing an
air strip, which will improve India’s ability to project power in the lower Indian Ocean and
closer to Africa.22 Similarly, an agreement was reached between India and the Seychelles
to develop infrastructure on Assumption Island, which the Seychelles government leased
to India. This builds off of prior assistance India gave the Seychelles through conducting
ocean mapping, providing aircraft and launching a radar project.23 These efforts reaffirm
Indian commitments to these island allies and complement the existing security arrangements.
Aside from new developments in directing infrastructural aid abroad to tip the
security balance in India’s favor, it is worthy to note that India already has a significant
number of security advantages over China in terms of its present posture. The most obvious advantage is its expansive coastline in the Indian Ocean, which it can control directly
and use to monitor and project power throughout the northern Indian Ocean with ease.
A less-obvious advantage is India’s island holdings in the eastern Indian Ocean: the
Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands. The Andaman Islands are home to Port Blair,
another Indian naval base, and both island chains are strategically situated right at the
entrance to the Strait of Malacca, the main maritime thoroughfare into Southeast Asia.24
These sovereign resources surpass any Chinese naval agreement.
Overall, India’s security position in the region, though lacking in some places from
the incremental forays China made through its substantial infrastructural investments, is
underpinned by the immutable position of the Indian subcontinent in the Indian Ocean.
China, consequently, has no choice but to develop a strong strategic outlook and followup on its objectives and efforts with huge resource allocations. This explains why Chinese
actions in the region seem all the more threatening—they are marginal gains building
upon a very minor prior presence. In the short run, the Indian Ocean will remain mostly
Indian. However, the greatest challenge for India is to ensure that these marginal gains
on China’s part can be brought to a halt. No broader strategy to counter the voluminous
spending and unified doctrine propelling China’s thrust into the Indian Ocean makes it
more difficult for India. If such a strategy cannot be developed and executed, it may prove
22  Jean Paul Arouff, “India in pacts to develop infrastructure in Mauritius, Seychelles,” Reuters, last modified March 12, 2015.
23 Ibid.
24  “Great Power Competition in the Indian Ocean”. Image. 2009.

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extremely difficult to prevent the Chinese navy from establishing a durable military foothold in the Indian Ocean.

The Race for the Indian Ocean: Who Stands to Win?

The huge flow of money spent on maritime infrastructure in the Indian Ocean
represents a strategic competition between China and India. Overt attempts at increasing
military presence would be heavy-handed and serve to disrupt both the bilateral relations
between China and India—which, after the competitive spending, are still fairly stable—
and regional security as a whole. Based off of the evidence above, it would seem that each
state is pitted against each other in a zero-sum game for influence and power.
There is, however, reason to cast doubt on such a pessimistic view. There are credible
grounds to assert that the pattern of investments seen throughout the Indian Ocean is not
just a proxy race for military security influence between China and India.This notion is
supported by the material benefits that infrastructural investments have made for individual states, gains afforded to China and India and the positive externalities for overall
systematic security. These three groupings illustrate ways in which China and India’s
monetary contributions should not be viewed as adversarial.
When considered through a strategic analytic lens, it can be easy to lose sight of what
Chinese and Indian investments mean for their recipient countries on the ground—a
crucial flow of resources and expertise, which help sustain some of the smallest economies in the world. It is not new that aid disbursements of various sorts come with strings
attached, be they explicit loan conditionality measures, memorandums of agreement that
complement aid packages or even tacit expectations of support and accommodation.25
Ultimately, these conditions and costs may be worth the substantial improvements to the
quality of life and economic activity that infrastructural development can offer to lowincome nations. Many of these small islands and poor states offer little strategic value to
countries besides China and India, and if they wish to provide service to their constituencies, they should leverage relatively small concessions of port access for huge improvements in trade capacity and transportation infrastructure.
Some of these infrastructural developments stand to comercially benefit China and
India. Ports throughout the Indian Ocean that are properly equipped with machinery and
storage space to operate as container ports offer both countries greater accessibility to
export their products worldwide. This benefits these two nations in particular, given their
particularly high rates of export. In the example of Colombo, China may have significant
holdings in the port, and its most recent infrastructure investment will expand the port’s
capacity even further. Nonetheless, “about 13% of India’s container traffic travels via Co25  See James Raymond Vreeland, “Foreign Aid and Global Governance: Buying Bretton Woods–The Swiss-Bloc Case,” The
Review of International Organizations 6, no. 3-4 (2011): 369-391.

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Michael Sliwinski

lombo. If the new terminal ran at full capacity and dedicated itself to transshipping containers to India, that could rise to 28%”—which is tantamount to a major rise in efficiency
for India, funded on China’s dime.26 Better ports in the states of the Indian Ocean, though
perhaps more inclined to defer judgment to their benefactors, still provide economic trade
incentives to both nations.
Finally, the increased offshore presence afforded to both China and India in the Indian Ocean represent a new chapter in systemic security in the region. The issues of piracy,
terrorism and disaster relief have been pressing stressors to states in or traveling through
the Indian Ocean for many years. If China and India have a greater stake in the area, they
will be more likely to defend against the dangers posed by leaving these problems unattended, which will provide safety, stability and prosperity for all the nations which rely on
trade or navigation through the Indian Ocean—the 70 percent of globally shipped oil that
passes through the Indian Ocean alone demonstrates the universal benefit afforded by a
secure global commons.27
In sum, not all the effects of Chinese and Indian maritime investments in the Indian
Ocean should be viewed as zero-sum competitions only benefitting one power or the
other. There are gains to be had on the part of the recipients, mutual increases to capacity
and trade among the two powers and a more reliable security environment for the whole
world. In light of the ideology guiding the investments, however, these benefits are, at best,
positive externalities to the true intentions of the states: an advantageous and robust military presence and projection into the Indian Ocean. It would be inaccurate to characterize
these benefits as negating or outweighing the security-related agenda of China or India,
and analysis ought to continue its focus on the relative balance of power between the two
countries.

Conclusion: The Future of the Indian Ocean and the Balance of Global Security

The maritime infrastructure spending spree in ports throughout the Indian Ocean
financed by China and India is a strategic competition for naval accommodations and
influence over the smaller states in the region. While these investments have resulted
in non-exclusive and collective positive externalities, the Chinese approach to building
its “Maritime Silk Road” and India’s response underscores the differences and desires of
the powers as they strive for regional security dominance. Open naval conflict remains a
possibility in the immediate future, especially as the states continue to solidify their Indian
Ocean footholds. In the long run, this stasis may shift and send shockwaves through the
states’ bilateral relations and the entire international system.
It is imperative to also focus on external factors, such as how the United States inter26  “The New Masters and Commanders,” The Economist (Print), June 8, 2013.
27  Detsch 2015 (“The Mixed Consequences”).

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acts with the Indian Ocean or borrows from the lessons offered by this strategic infrastructural spending agenda. Since 2009, President Obama’s “pivot [or “rebalance”] to Asia”
has been portrayed as a concerted shift away from the Middle East, which dominated
American foreign policy during the 1990s and 2000s. Endemic instability in the Middle
East hindered this process of refocusing, but the policy remains a priority for President
Obama and the United States military. While diplomats would vehemently deny that
this pivot is meant to contain Chinese expansion, annual Department of Defense reports
demonstrate the military’s concerns over China’s rapid military growth and increasingly
outward-facing policies.28 In the United States, the Chinese military discourse is more
focused on a Taiwan Strait contingency or bellicosity in the South China Sea, with little
thought afforded to projects to improve docks and ports in Hambantota, Sri Lanka or
Chittagong, Bangladesh. The military, and, by extent, all of United States foreign policy in
the Indo-Pacific, should be sensitive to the infrastructure race in the Indian Ocean and its
implications for Chinese naval power projection and diplomacy in the area. For its part,
India may be able to capitalize on these American concerns to block Chinese investments
from giving China too much influence in the Indian Ocean.
The investments in maritime infrastructure described above are just one facet in SinoIndian engagement with each other and in the Indo-Pacific. The lesson this study offers is
that money can drive international security in ways beyond simply buying ships or selling
submarines. Naval security is a complex matrix of international territories, expansive
support systems across thousands of miles of water and the cooperation of states, big and
small, each with their particular national interests. No understanding of this area of study
is complete without considering both physical military strength and ways that strength
may be supplemented through seemingly disparate methods like foreign infrastructure
investment.

28  See Office of the Secretary of Defense, “Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the
People’s Republic of China 2014.”

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Works Cited
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Detsch, Jack. “The Mixed Consequences of Sino-Indian Competition in the Indian Ocean.”
The Diplomat. Last modified January 28, 2015.
Detsch, Jack. “China Boosts Submarine Fleets for Indian Ocean Allies.” The Diplomat. Last
modified February 13, 2015.
“Great Power Competition in the Indian Ocean.” Image. 2009.
Johnson, Keith. “China Invests Billions in Its ‘All-Weather Friendship’ With Pakistan”. Foreign Policy. Last modified April 16, 2015.
Mohan, C Raja. “Modi’s Sagar Mala.” Indian Express Online: The Indian Express Ltd. Last
modified March 11, 2015.
“The new Masters and Commanders.” The Economist (Print). Last modified June 8, 2013.
Office of the Secretary of Defense. “Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2014.”
Panda, Ankit. “Sri Lanka May Bar Port Visits by Chinese Marines.” The Diplomat. Last
modified March 3, 2015.
Samaranayake, Nilanthi. “India’s Key to Sri Lanka: Maritime Infrastructure Development.”
The Diplomat. Last modified March 31, 2015.
Singh, Abhijit. “A ‘PLA-N’ for Chinese maritime bases in the Indian Ocean.” Center for
Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C. Last modified January 26, 2015.
Verlaan, Philomene A. “Indian Ocean.” Encyclopaedia Britanica. Encyclopaedia Britanica
Inc. 2015.
Vreeland, James Raymond. “Foreign Aid and Global Governance: Buying Bretton Woods–
The Swiss-Bloc Case.” The Review of International Organizations 6, no. 3-4 (2011):
369-391.
Yang, Siyu. “The Pearl Harbors: China’s Port Diplomacy.” China Hands: The Huffington Post
Online. Last modified April 23, 2015.

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Spending Spree

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Internet Censorship and Strategic Signaling

Cyber-Nationalism in China During the 2012 Sino-Japanese Senkaku
Islands Dispute
Jackie, Siu-Hei Wong

The aim of this piece is to investigate the use of Internet censorship as a new tactic to aid
the “strategic signaling” of autocracies in international negotiations. The 2012 Sino-Japanese
Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute is used as a case study. According to Cornell University Professor Jessica Weiss, risky and costly anti-foreign protests enable autocratic regimes to convey
credible signals to international rivals by demonstrating their domestic vulnerability. The findings of this article suggest that autocratic regimes may use Internet censorship to aid their strategic signaling. Coding 2587 censored messages on the Chinese microblogging website Weibo
illustrate that during the 2012 Sino-Japanese Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute, the Chinese
government successfully used Internet censorship to foment nationalist sentiment by censoring messages that criticized the anti-Japanese protests. A certain degree of criticism of the
Chinese government’s moderate stance was permitted, and internet users were allowed to promote nationalist protests in cyberspace. These findings suggest that the Chinese government
strategically used Internet censorship to increase the perceived sincerity of the protests, thereby
conveying a more credible signal to Japan.

Introduction

In 2014, China’s President Xi Jinping made a speech that said the Chinese dream will
bring opportunities and to the world.” This speech was consistent with China’s conventional approach to diplomatic relations with Japan where “politics promote economics, and
economics promote politics.” However, the 2005 and 2010 Senkaku Islands disputes triggered massive nationalist protests in China’s major cities. Netizens (Internet users) pressured the Chinese government to take a more assertive role in resolving the conflict. The
two waves of anti-Japanese protests in response to the 2012 Senkaku Islands dispute were
even more extreme: the protests spread across more provinces. Whereas many scholars
suggest that increased expression of nationalist sentiment reduces governments’ flexibility
in managing international disputes, author Jessica Weiss argues that nationalist protests
help authoritarian states to credibly signal their resolve to international rivals. Since they
are costly to subdue, anti-foreign protests pose a particular threat to domestic stability,
and therefore, the decision to allow these protests gives insight into the situation. On the
one hand, allowing nationalist protests reveals a government’s vulnerability and demon-

Jackie, Siu-Hei Wong is a recent graduate from the University of Michigan
in May 2015 with departmental Honors and Distinction, majoring in Political
Science. He is now studying at the University of Chicago for the Master of Arts
degree in International Relations.

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23

strates resolve during international disputes. On the other, enabling nationalist protests
raises the audience costs, giving credibility to the hawkish stance taken by the state.
Autocratic regimes sometimes use news media to steer public opinion and control
nationalist sentiment. Political scientist Daniela Stockmann demonstrated the Chinese
government’s ability to manipulate nationalist sentiment by disseminating propaganda
and implementing press restrictions in the 2005 Sino-Japanese dispute.1 Yet, the current
literature has not systematically analyzed the implications of Internet censorship and
the rise of cyber-nationalism for strategic signaling and bargaining during international
conflicts.
To investigate these implications, the author constructed the following two hypotheses. (1) The Chinese government used news media to foment nationalist sentiment in
response to the 2012 Sino-Japanese Senkaku Islands dispute but suppressed nationalist
expression after the protest. (2) The Chinese government allowed netizens to promote
nationalist protest in response to the dispute but censored protest-related messages once
the protests began.The former hypothesis concerns the Chinese government’s intent and
attitude toward the Japanese government during the 2012 Senkaku Islands dispute in
a systemic approach aided by the software Yoshikoder; the latter concerns the Chinese
government’s manipulation of public opinion through Internet censorship to strategically
convey signals to political opponents.

Literature Review
China’s Pragmatic Nationalism

Politicians, statesmen and intellectuals in China promoted nationalism since the 19th
century. In a paper entitled “China’s Pragmatic Nationalism: Is it Manageable?,” University
of Denver Professor Suisheng Zhao describes China’s nationalism as a “pragmatic” form
that “identifies China closely with the CCP.”2 He states that China’s pragmatic nationalism
is state-centric; the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) solicits loyalty and support from
the Chinese people by encouraging devotion to the state. The official rhetoric of nationalism involves phrases like “loving the state” and “patriotism through love and support for
China.”3
The CCP gained power in 1949, but Mao’s emphasis on self-reliance and nativism
during the 1960s hindered Chinese nationalism. According to Zhao, the Chinese believed
that “the Leninist vision of the Chinese people uniting behind and sacrificing themselves
for a communist-led movement” designed to keep out foreign invaders was “merely a
1  Daniela Stockmann, “Who Believes Propaganda? Media Effects During the Anti-Japanese Protests in Beijing,” The China
Quarterly, 202 (2010), 286-287.
2  Suisheng Zhao, “China’s Pragmatic Nationalism: Is it Manageable?” The Washington Quarterly, 29.1 (2005), 131-133.
3 Ibid.

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creation of the mythologized Yenan era” after the death of Mao.4 Zhao argued that China’s
subsequent leaders, such as Deng Xiaoping, Zhao Ziyang and Jiang Zemin were pragmatists, as they believed that improving the standard of living in China was the only way
to protect the CCP from the fate of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union and other
Soviet Bloc states.5 At the same time, the CCP began to emphasize distinctive features of
Chinese culture to bolster the perceived legitimacy of the state and party.
The promotion of nationalism became state policy in the 1990s. Zhao noted that after
the Tiananmen incident on June 4, 1989, the CCP intensively promoted nationalism to
ensure the continued loyalty of the Chinese people and halt the decline in the perceived
legitimacy of the Communist Party.6 As part of this policy, the government gave China’s
education system a new patriotic orientation. Government-produced textbooks contained
exaggerated accounts of China’s “100 years of humiliation,” and focused on the success of
the CCP in bringing economic prosperity to China.7
In addition to forcefully introducing Chinese nationalism into school education, the
Chinese government continued to use state propaganda and media to foster nationalist
sentiment.

Propaganda and Nationalism

In this paper, the term “propaganda” translates from the Chinese term “xuānchuán,”
defined as the provision of misleading information for persuasive purposes. Stockmann
claims that Chinese propaganda is based on “subjective opinion aimed at guiding readers in a certain direction,” which is “generally positive” and emphasizes “issues such as
economic development, social development and people’s happiness to keep the public in a
positive mood.”8
Throughout the history of the CCP, news media has been used to promote state
ideology and government policy.9 However, the creation of propaganda in China has
significantly changed over the last three decades. China’s news media outlets were all
state-owned before 1978; however, the CCP has since endorsed their commercialization.
According to Stockmann and Gallagher, this reform was designed to give greater authority to lower levels of the news media hierarchy in matters of programming, personnel and

4  Suisheng Zhao. “Chinese Nationalism and its International Orientations.” Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 115, No. 1 (Spring,
2000), 10.
5 Ibid.
6 Ibid., 10, 18-19.
7 Ibid., 18-19.
8  Stockmann, “Who Believes Propaganda,” 274.
9  Daniela Stockmann and Mary E. Gallagher, “Remote Control: How the Media Sustain Authoritarian Rule in China.”
Comparative Political Studies (2011), 444.

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business.10 The Chinese government also encouraged the country’s news media outlets to
seek external funding via advertising and sales.11 As a result, most modern media outlets
in China fund themselves, although a few continue to receive state funding.12 After three
decades of media reform in China, the country’s media outlets are classified into the following three main categories:13
(1) Official News Media
All news media outlets that are completely funded by the state. A representative
example of this type of media outlet is the People’s Daily (人民日報) newspaper.
(2) Semi-official News Media
All news media outlets that receive approximately half of their funding from the
state and half from sales revenue. An example of this type of media outlet is the
Global Times (環球時報) newspaper.
(3) Commercialized News Media
All news media outlets that are fully commercialized or funded entirely by sales
revenue. An example of this type of media outlet is the Beijing Times (京華時報)
newspaper.
Whereas propaganda is always characterized by selective reporting, particularly on
sensitive topics, non-official newspapers are widely believed to publish “real” news. They
provide readers with news stories including information that may reflect negatively on
the government.14 Therefore, media practitioners regard information provided in China’s
official news media as propaganda, whereas semi-official and commercialized news media
are believed to offer more balanced reporting.15 Non-official news media are also subject
to sensationalist reporting.16 Stockmann finds that people outside the media industry also
prefer to read non-official newspapers, which they perceive to be more credible. However,
the reform of China’s news media has not made media outlets immune to censorship,
especially when reporting on highly sensitive topics such as corruption cases and Sinoforeign relations.17 China’s Propaganda Department has the ultimate authority to impose
press restrictions at any time. For instance, it may force all news media outlets to use
10  Ibid., 440-441.
11 Ibid.
12 Ibid.
13  Stockmann, “Who Believes Propaganda,” 271-274.
14  Ibid., 275.
15 Ibid.
16  Stockmann and Gallagher, “Remote Control,” 439.
17  Stockmann, “Who Believes Propaganda,” 271-275.

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sources provided by Xinhua News Agency, the official mouthpiece of the CCP, to report
on sensitive topics in times of crisis.

News Media and Nationalist Sentiment During the 2005 Sino-Japanese Protest

As Sino-foreign relations are regarded by the Chinese government as one of the most
sensitive topics of news reporting, the Propaganda Department closely monitors media
content concerning China’s foreign relations. Instead of using traditional coding methods
to measure the tones of news articles tones, Stockmann uses the software “Yoshikoder” to
conduct a more objective measurement of the tone of Chinese newspapers. She illustrates
that during the anti-Japanese protests of 2005, the Propaganda Department successfully
cooled Chinese hostility towards the Japanese by immediately imposing press restrictions.18 In the People’s Daily (人民日報) (an official newspaper) and Beijing qingnian bao/
Beijing Youth Daily (北京青年報) (a commercialized newspaper), the coverage of Japan’s
controversial history textbooks was toned down in immediate response to the press
restrictions.19 This tactic was particularly successful in alleviating anger toward the Japanese and making members of the Chinese public less inclined to join the anti-Japanese
protests.20 Stockmann’s findings suggest a strong correlation between nationalist sentiment
and the tone of newspaper articles. As news reports become more emotive, nationalist
sentiment increases. Stockmann concludes that the commercial liberalization of China’s
media helped the Chinese government to foster positive public opinion.21 As unofficial
newspapers are perceived to be more credible than official newspapers, they have more
readers. However, as soon as press restrictions are imposed, all newspapers fall in line with
the state’s position. As a result, the Chinese government is able to use both official and
unofficial media to elicit public nationalistic sentiment for crisis management.

Internet Censorship and the Growth of Cyberspace in China

Along with traditional news media, the Internet provides an important outlet for
public expression in China. According to statistics released by the China Internet Network
Information Center, China had more than 600 million Internet users in 2014.22 Although
the rate of increase in Internet usage diminished since 2014, there are still more Internet users in China than in any other country in the world—even the U.S.23 However, the
Chinese government continues to censor messages posted on the Internet that violate state
18  Ibid., 277-278.
19  Ibid., 278-279.
20  Ibid., 284-286.
21 Ibid.
22  “CNNIC published the 35th “Statistical Report on Internet Development in China,” accessed March 12, 2015.
23  Euan Mckirdy, “China’s Online Users More than Double Entire U.S. Population., CNN, February 4, 2015, accessed March 15,
2015.

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policies and closely monitors cyberspace and other media outlets to censor any sensitive
messages posted online.

Methods of Censorship in China

In a paper entitled “How Censorship in China Allows Government Criticism but Silences Collective Expression,” King, Pan and Roberts identify the following three censorship mechanisms used by the Chinese government:24
(1) The Great Firewall, which prevents Chinese netizens from browsing and
expressing opinions on foreign websites like Facebook. However, the authors
point out that opinions can still be expressed on substitute websites. RenRen, for
example, is a semi-open substitute for Facebook.
(2) Keyword blocking prevents users from posting messages containing banned
words and phrases. However, according to the authors, this method is ineffective
because Chinese netizens often use innocuous phrases as substitutes for similarly
pronounced sensitive phrases, such as “river crab,” which has a similar pronunciation in Mandarin as “harmonious society.”
(3) Hand censoring, wherein messages posted online are read individually by
censors. According to the authors, this method is the most extensive form of
censorship as it cannot be evaded using substitute phrases.
King, Pan and Roberts illustrate that the Chinese government allows Internet users to
criticize the state but censors messages in which collective action is promoted.25 They find
that the rate of censorship is especially high for topics related to state stability, such as an
incident involving Ai Wei Wei, a renowned dissident artist, internal protests and protests
in other countries. Pornography is subject to the greatest censorship.26 King, Pan and
Roberts explain that addressing grievances to the state actually reflects one’s acceptance of
state legitimacy, and the state usually permits citizens to express their opinions as long as
they do not promote collective action.27
Although King, Pan and Roberts do not attempt to ascertain the true intent of the
Chinese government in responding to public opinion as expressed in nationalist protests,
they state that future researchers can use the same approach to gain further “insights into
China’s international relations and foreign policy.”28 To evaluate her second hypothesis, the
24  Gary King, Jennifer Pan, and Margaret E. Roberts, “How Censorship in China Allows Government Criticism but Silences
Collective Expression,” American Political Science Review, 107 (2013): 3.
25  Ibid., 14-17.
26  Ibid., 6.
27  Ibid., 14-15.
28  Ibid., 15.

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author uses a similar method to examine the insights offered by Internet censorship into
China’s foreign policy intentions.

Weiss’s Theory of the Use of Nationalist Protest in Strategic Signaling
Putnam and Two-Level Game Analysis

Two-level game theory, first proposed by Robert Putnam, has long been used to
explain the interplay between domestic politics and the foreign policy of democratic
countries. In a paper entitled “Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two-Level
Games,” Putnam suggests that domestic politics and international relations are entangled.
Only an actor whose status quo is likely to be improved by a change will agree to that
change.29 Putnam also proposes that the success of democratic leaders in making deals
with rivals during international negotiation (Level One of the game) is partly dependent
on their ability to gain support from constituents (Level Two).30 The “win-set” in the first
level of the game is shaped by the distribution of power between Level Two constituents
and political institutions and by the bargaining strategy adopted in Level One.

Audience Costs and Signaling

In this theoretical framework, Putnam suggests that Level One players (political leaders) may have an advantage in international bargaining if they are able to convincingly
present themselves as subject to domestic constraints (Level Two), as such constraints enable them to claim that they will be punished for making concessions.31 Stanford Professor
James Fearon defines the punishment at the domestic level as audience costs in which the
audience would punish its leaders for backing down in international disputes.32 During
international negotiation, political actors are able to signal their sincerity to other states by
indicating that they are willing to endure the associated audience costs. In a paper entitled
“The Strategic Setting of Choices,” novelist James Morrow states that audience costs are
the most fundamental determinant of the effectiveness of strategic signaling.33

Nationalist Protest as Signal

Scholars traditionally argue that democracies have an advantage over authoritarian
regimes in signaling their intentions during international negotiations, since democratic
leaders can declare they are constrained by parliamentarians and constituents as strategic
29  Robert Putnam, “Diplomacy and Domestic Politics,” 436-437.
30  Ibid., 436.
31  Ibid., 450-453
32  James Fearon, “Domestic Political Audiences and the Escalation of International Disputes,” The American Political Science
Review Vol.88, Issue 3 (1994), 577-578, accessed March 10, 2015.
33  James Morrow, “The Strategic Setting of Choices: Signaling, Commitment, and Negotiation in International Politics,” In
Strategic Choice and International Relations, edited by David Lake, and Robert Powell. Princeton, U.S.: Princeton University Press
(2010), 109.

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tactics in international negotiation.34 Although authoritarian regimes can also demonstrate that they are constrained by domestic elites, it is difficult to credibly signal this type
of audience cost to other states. Weiss suggests that nationalist protests offer one mechanism for authoritarian regimes to signal their intentions during international bargaining
due to the considerable threat posed by nationalist protests.35 She outlines three major
explanations for why nationalist protests are particularly risky and difficult to suppress in
authoritarian regimes.36
(1) Demonstration effects: If the government fails to suppress a protest immediately, the scale of the protest may rapidly increase to the point of unmanageability.
Protests triggered by nationalist sentiment are particularly threatening to authoritarian regimes.37
(2) “Elite split,” which refers to the potential for nationalist protests to divide
hardliners and moderates. 38 In China, nationalist protests may provide an excuse
for hardliners to attack moderates, threatening both the unanimity of the CCP
and the legitimacy of the current ruler, whose position is moderate. The leadership change in China in 2013 made the elite more likely to pursue aggressive
action to gain the support of the military or to consolidate power around the new
administration. Nationalist protests may have also enabled opponents to attack
the current leader’s “soft” diplomatic stance.
(3) Resource mobilization: “Protests beget protests” by decreasing the cost of collective action and allowing other groups with fewer political resources to join the
protests. This increases the spread of protest techniques from hard-core activists
to formerly-passive actors.39

Weiss offers a comprehensive framework to explain why, in light of the above threats,
the Chinese government either allows public nationalist protests to continue or suppresses

34  Kenneth Schultz, “Domestic Opposition and Signaling in International Crises,” The American Political Science Review, Vol.
92, No. 4 (1998), 840-841.
35  Weiss, “Authoritarian Signaling,” 1-3.
36  Ibid., 5-6.
37  See Jessica Chen Weiss, “Authoritarian Signaling,” 5-6.; Thomas Schelling, Micromotives and Macrobehavior, (New York:
Norton, 1978); Timur Kuran, “Now Out of Never: The Element of Surprise in the East European Revolution of 1989,” World
Politics Vol. 44, No.1 (1991), 7-8.; Susanne Lohmann, “The Dynamics of Informational Cascades: The Monday Demonstrations
in Leipzig, East Germany, 1989–91,” World Politics Vol. 47. No1 (1994), 42-101.
38  See Jessica Chen Weiss, “Authoritarian Signaling,” 5-6.; O’ Guillermo Donnell, and Schmitter Philippe. Transitions From
Authoritarian Rule: Tentative Conclusions About Uncertain Democracies, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986).
39  See Jessica Chen Weiss, “Authoritarian Signaling,” 5-6.; Sidney Tarrow, Power in Movement: Social Movements and Contentious Politics, (New York: Cambridge University Press. 1998).

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them.40 In authoritarian states, nationalist protests can spiral out of control and are hard
to suppress. Thus, allowing nationalist protests can credibly convey the signal by revealing
state’s vulnerability and demonstrating the state’s resolve during international disputes.
Additionally, nationalist protests increase the government’s concession costs. Since it is
hard for an autocratic regime to suppress nationalist protests, the hawkish stance taken
by the state becomes credible. By the same logic, limiting national protests also conveys a
costly signal to show the state’s willingness to cooperate. Weiss demonstrates that during the last two disputes between the U.S. and China, the Chinese government allowed
nationalist protests to continue only as long as the benefit to international negotiation
outweighed the cost of domestic nationalist dissent.41

“Sincere” Protests and “Manufactured” Protests

To successfully use nationalist protests to signal their resolve, autocratic regimes must
convince foreigners of the threat posed to stability by the protests and the cost of their
repression at a domestic level. Weiss states that the success of such signaling depends on
the ability of external observers to distinguish clearly between sincere and manufactured
protests. Protesters are “self-motivated, self-chosen and self-organized” and cease to
demonstrate only when the government curtails their activities or meets their demands.42
In contrast, those who participate in manufactured protests are selected, organized and/
or rewarded by the government. As sincere protests pose a greater threat to stability and
are more costly to repress, they are more likely to be treated as a credible signal by foreign
observers, whereas the use of manufactured protests to signal resolve is likely to be unconvincing.43 Therefore, sincere nationalist demonstrations help the leaders of autocratic
regimes to maintain a firm diplomatic stance.44
Weiss does not investigate the use of Internet censorship by autocratic regimes to
enhance their strategic signaling. The aim of this paper is to fill this gap by demonstrating how Internet censorship can help the leaders of autocratic regimes to convey credible
signals.

2012 Senkaku Islands Dispute

The 2012 Senkaku Islands dispute provoked the largest-scale anti-Japanese protests
in the history of the Chinese Communist Party. The protests occurred in approximately
200 Chinese cities in response to the Japanese government’s  decision to nationalize the
Senkaku Islands, a group of disputed territories in the South China Sea. The protests
40 
41 
42 
43 
44 

Ibid., 30-31.
Ibid.
Ibid., 10-12.
Ibid.
Ibid.

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took place in two waves. While the Chinese government sought to persuade the Japanese
government to withdraw its proposal, patriotic Hong Kong activists landed on the islands
in August 2012 and were arrested by the Japanese navy, which triggered the first wave of
protests on August 19. According to Weiss, the Chinese government’s repression of all nationalist protests after August 20 may have been perceived as a strategic signal. However,
the Japanese government was not dissuaded from its original proposal and subsequently
nationalized the islands, triggering the second wave of protests on September 28.
In a chapter of her book entitled “The 2012 Anti-Japan Protests and the Diaoyu/
Senkaku Islands Crisis,” Weiss argues that the Japanese government incorrectly estimated
the strength of the first wave of the protests because Japan’s top officials believed that the
Chinese government was strong enough to control and suppress the protests.45 As a result
of this misperception, the Japanese government officially nationalized the islands, escalating the crisis and triggering the second wave of anti-Japanese protests in September. These
larger-scale protests, together with the refusal of Chinese officials to attend the annual
meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Tokyo in September,
provided Japan with a more sincere and reassuring signal.46
As the aim of this research is not to analyze the effects of the strategic signals provided by the two-wave protest, the author does not develop the implications of the 2012
anti-Japanese protests. Instead, the author examines the Chinese government’s use of
Internet censorship to aid its strategic signaling during the two waves of the 2012 protests.
The author constructs two hypotheses to investigate this issue.

First Hypothesis and Results

First hypothesis: the Chinese government used news media to foment nationalist sentiment in response to the dispute but suppressed nationalist expression after the protests.
This hypothesis is consistent with Weiss’s argument that the Chinese government uses
traditional state media to send signals to foreign observers. However, rather than using
Weiss’s qualitative method to analyze the tone of state media like the People’s Daily newspaper, the author evaluates tone more systematically, as recommended by Stockmann, by
identifying and counting the positive and negative words used in each news article.

Methodology

The tone of the newspaper articles is usually measured by hand coding. However, this
method requires a relatively large number of people, each of whom may have different cri-

45  Jessica Chen Weiss, Powerful Patriots: Nationalist Protest in China’s Foreign Relations, (New York: Oxford University Press,
2014), 209-211.
46  Ibid., 205-209.

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teria for assessing tone.47 In “Information Overload? Collecting, Managing, and Analyzing
Chinese Media Content,” Stockmann recommends measuring the tone of a news article by
subtracting the number of negative words from the number of positive words used in the
article.48 Stockman’s method was used for this study by creating a dictionary to examine
the tone of references to Sino-Japanese relations with two main categories: positive words
and negative words. The number of positive and negative words in each news article were
counted using coding software.
To test the above hypothesis, 198 new articles were collected that were published in
two well-known official Chinese newspapers, the People’s Daily (人民日報), the People’s
Liberation Army Daily (解放軍報) and a semi-official newspaper, the Beijing Youth Daily
(北京青年報),49 between April 1 and December 31, 2012. Newspapers were chosen as the
data source because they are the most popular source of news information in urban areas
of China, and their content can be retrieved easily from online databases.50 Two types of
newspapers—official and semi-official—were examined to increase the reliability of the
research.
The period under study can be divided into five main components:
(1) April 1 to August 10: when the Japanese government considered nationalizing
the Senkaku Islands.
(2) August 11 to 19: from the Japanese Navy’s arrest of Hong Kong citizens on the
Senkaku Islands to the Chinese government’s crackdown on the first wave of the
anti-Japanese protest.
(3) August 20 to September 10: the period after the first wave of the protest.
(4) September 11 to September 20: from Japan’s official announcement of the
nationalization of the Senkaku Islands to the Chinese government’s crackdown on
the second wave of the protest (widely known as the 9-18 protest, which reached
its peak on the anniversary of the Mukden Incident).
(5) September 21 to December 31: the period after the 9-18 protest.

47  Daniela Stockmann, “Information Overload? Collecting, Managing, and Analyzing Chinese Media Content,” in Contemporary Chinese Politics: New Sources, Methods, and Field Strategies, edited by Allen Carlson, Mary Gallagher, Kenneth Lieberthal,
and Melanie Manion. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press (2010), 116.
48  Ibid., 121.
49  These particular newspapers are used as data sources because they are all available online, which allows for content analysis
using coding software. This set of 198 news articles comprised of only articles on Sino-Japanese relations, such as news articles
related to the Senkaku Islands dispute. However, articles on internal Japanese politics that mentioned Sino-Japanese relations
were also included, such as articles on the 2012 Japanese parliamentary election. The People’s Daily articles were drawn from the
China Core Newspapers database, the People’s Liberation Army Daily articles were drawn from the Jiefangjun Bao database and
the Beijing Youth Daily articles were retrieved from the Duxiu Knowledge Search database.
50  Ibid., 117.

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The use of negative words to describe Japan in Chinese news articles can be regarded as a
green light to the anti-Japanese protesters. Therefore, the first hypothesis is supported if
the tone of the three newspapers was more negative in periods (2) and (4) than in periods
(3) and (5).

Results

As illustrated in Figure 1, all three newspapers used a moderate tone during the
first period under study (April 1 to August 10, 2012). The tone of articles on Sino-Japanese
relations in the two official newspapers was much softer than that of equivalent articles in
the Beijing Youth Daily. For example, 40 positive words were used in a People’s Daily news
article on April 4 to describe a visit to Japan by Xi Jingping. The author of a news article
published in the People’s Daily on April 19, “Xi Jingping Meets Japanese Guests,” stated
that “both countries need to improve their mutual trust in political and strategic develop
ment” and “continue to contribute to the development of Sino-Japanese relations.”51 A
more negative tone was portrayed in news articles on Japan in the Beijing Youth Daily,
probably due to the more sensationalist reporting style of semi-commercialized newspapers. The findings for the first period indicate that the Chinese government wished
to foster harmonious relations with Japan before August 11. Most articles in the official
newspapers advocate for economic and strategic cooperation with Japan.

51  “Yang Ye, Xi Jinping Meets with Japanese Guests,” China Core Newspapers, D822.3:003 (2012), accessed March 10, 2015.

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Figure 1
The tone used in these three newspapers changed dramatically after August 11, when
the Japanese Navy arrested the three Hong Kong citizens attempting to access the islands.
As displayed in Figure 2, harsher terms were used in all three newspapers to report on
China’s relations with Japan. Interestingly, the tone of the newspaper articles changed
little after the first wave of the protest. For example, in an article entitled, “Do Not Let
Individual Politicians Hijack Sino-Japanese Relations” published in the People’s Liberation
Army Daily on August 16, the Japanese government was only “reminded” that allowing
right-wing parties to hijack Japan’s foreign policies would severely damage Sino-Japanese
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relations.52 The author of the news article also emphasized that although the Chinese
government “would not initiate any conflict,” it would “not be afraid to respond to further
actions taken by Japan.” In a news article published on August 29 entitled, “The Treaty of
Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States and Japan Cannot Become
an Umbrella Protecting Japan from Violating China’s Interests,” Japan was advised that “it
would not be wise to regard the treaty as a protective umbrella permitting further provocative actions,” and that China “would not make any concessions in response to this
incident.”53 These examples suggest that the rhetoric used in China’s official newspapers
was crafted mainly to warn Japan to avoid inciting further disputes.54

52  Sheen Shihong, “Do Not Let Individual Politiancs Hijack Sino-Japanese Relations,” Jiefangjun Bao (PLA Daily), August 16,
2012.
53  Fu Zhiwei, “Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States and Japan” Jiefangjun Bao (PLA Daily),
August 29, 2012, last accessed March 10, 2015.
54  People’s Daily news articles are not available in the China Core Newspapers database.

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Figure 2

However, as displayed in Figure 3, a more negative tone was used after September 11,
when the Japanese government declared its plan to nationalize the Senkaku Islands. Surprisingly, a more negative tone was portrayed in an official newspaper, People’s Daily. This
contradicted media analysts’ traditional assumption that more negative words are used in
commercial newspapers than in official newspapers at times of crisis. On September 12,
the day after Japan announced the islands’ nationalization, Japan was warned in a People’s
Daily news article, “Japan Should Stop Playing with Fire,” that if the Japanese government
continued to “play with fire over the Senkaku Islands dispute,” it would be “held responsible for the serious consequences.”55 This suggests that during this incident, the Chinese
55 

Bells, “Japan Should Stop Playing with Fire,” China Core Newspapers, D823:003 (2012), last accessed March 10, 2015.

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37

government attempted to manipulate public opinion and conveyed a warning signal to Japan rather than indulging in sensationalist reporting. As expected, the tone of the articles
softened noticeably after the second wave of the protest on September 18.

Figure 3

The findings support Weiss’s argument that the Chinese government thought the first
wave of the protest presented a strong signal to force Japan to give up its nationalization
plan. However, the signal’s ineffectiveness inspired the CCP to increase the scale of the
protest. The average tone of references to Sino-Japanese relations in the People’s Liberation Army Daily, a state newspaper, was measured at negative five to negative six during
the first wave of the protest, but changed dramatically during the second wave, dropping
to approximately -14. The findings also suggest that as the nationalist protest increased in
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scale, a harsher tone was used in the newspapers to describe the conflict. A more severe
tone in news articles may be interpreted as further encouragement for domestic nationalists to organize or participate in protests. Lastly, the findings of this research are consistent
with the results of Stockmann’s analysis of the 2005 Sino-Japanese protests. After the protests were repressed, a softer tone was used in the state media to describe Sino-Japanese
relations.

Second Hypothesis and Findings

Second hypothesis: the Chinese government allowed Internet users to promote nationalist protest in response to the disputes but censored protest-related messages once the
protests began.
To test this hypothesis, the author systematically analyzed the use of Internet censorship by the Chinese government as part of its strategic signaling in relation to the dispute.
Having the public promote protests is costly to the government and offers a credible signal
to foreign observers. Therefore, the government’s minimal use of censorship to incite nationalist protest encouraged foreign observers to regard the protests as sincere, consistent
with Weiss’s theoretical framework of strategic signaling.

Methodology

Sina Weibo is one of China’s most popular social-media platforms. It was created in
2009 to provide a service equivalent to Twitter and had more than 200 million users by the
end of 2011.56 According to a report from the China Internet Network Information Center
in 2012, there were more than 538 million Internet users in China halfway through 2012;
one out of every two Chinese Internet users used Sina Weibo.57 The report also suggests
that the use of more traditional forms of cyber communication like email and discussion
forums diminished during this period.58
Censored messages obtained from the Weiboscope Project conducted at the Journalism and Media Studies Center of the University of Hong Kong were aggregated and coded
to test the above hypothesis. This project took regular samples of more than 350,000
Chinese Weibo bloggers, each with more than 1000 followers and restored their censored
messages.59
The author collected all messages containing the word “protest” (示威) that were
censored during the two waves of the 2012 anti-Japanese protests. The first wave of the
protest lasted from August 15 to 25 and the second from September 11 to 23. In each case,
the measurement period began with the first day of the protest (August 15 for the first
56  “Microblogging Use in China Quadrupled in 2011: Think Tank,” Reuters, last modified Jan. 16, 2012.
57  “Statistical Report on Internet Development in China,” China Internet Network Information Center.
58  Ibid.
59  Wa-Fu King, Chung-Hong Chan and Michael Chau, “Assessing Censorship on Microblogs in China: Discriminatory Keyword Analysis and Impact Evaluation of the ‘Real Name Registration’ Policy,” IEEE Internet Computing, 17, 3 (2013), 42-44.

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39
wave and September 11 for the second wave) and ended five days after the protest (August
25 and September 23, respectively). The author then created a method for classifying the
messages containing the word “protest.” The categories were as follows:
Item 1: Messages criticizing or mentioning aggressive action, arson (like burning
the Japanese flag) or vandalism (e.g. throwing stones at Japanese-owned retailers
such as Toyota).
Item 2: Messages mentioning anti-Japanese protests or promoting further protests.
Item 3: Messages mentioning protests outside China during the period under the
study, such as anti-Japanese protests in Hong Kong or right-wing anti-Chinese
protests in Japan.
Item 4: Messages attacking the Chinese government for its moderate stance in
the dispute or urging the government to take further diplomatic action, such as
implementing economic sanctions.
Item 5: Messages unrelated to the topic under study, such as those concerning
factory workers’ protests in South Africa, and messages containing insufficient
information for categorization (N/A).
Item 6: Messages relating to boycotts, such as those urging people to avoid using
Japanese cars.

First Wave of Protest and Results

The first wave of the protests began on August 19, 2012 and were triggered by the
Japanese Navy’s deportation of Hong Kong activists from the Senkaku Islands on August
15. The protests involved Chinese citizens in various provinces.
Between August 15 and August 24, over 1,200 Weibo messages containing the phrase
“protest” were censored. Censorship increased dramatically when the protest took place
but diminished thereafter. As illustrated in Figure 4, the number of protest-related messages censored between August 15 and 24 reached its peak on August 19 and decreased
rapidly by August 20.

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Jackie, Siu-Huei Wong

Figure 4
Messages in Item 2 were not subject to the greatest censorship. As shown in Figure
5, the percentage of censored Item 2 messages diminished between August 15 and 18
but increased rapidly until August 22. This suggests that the Chinese government took
a relatively moderate approach to censoring messages where “anti-Japanese protest” was
mentioned or incited. Notably, however, these messages were banned entirely after the
protests had begun, in an attempt to prevent further protest activity.
Interestingly, the Chinese government did not want the protest to be associated with
arson or vandalism. As shown in Figure 5, Item 1 messages were rigorously censored. On
August 19, 153 of 468 censored messages contained references to arson and/or vandalism. One message censored on August 19—“I would break off relations with to my friends
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41

who participate in and support this protests because they may influence my intelligence
quotient”—was probably removed because the author criticized the aggressiveness of the
anti-Japanese protesters.60 Another message censored on the same day was as follows:
“[...] people should go to the Senkaku Islands to protest, otherwise this protest is only a
pretense”.61 These two examples suggest that the authors of most of the messages censored
on August 19 were criticizing the protest itself, rather than promoting further protests.

Figure 5
The government adopted a relatively lenient attitude toward Internet users’ promotion of the first wave of the protest. However, any messages related to arson and vandalism
60  See Fu, Chan, and Chau, “Assessing Censorship on Microblogs.”
61 Ibid.

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were stringently censored. The findings also suggest that the Chinese government strongly
intended to control the scope of the protest via censorship in cyberspace.

Second Wave of Protest and Results

The findings for the second wave of the protest were fairly similar to those for the
first wave. During the second wave of the protest, nearly 5,500 items were censored. The
author randomly sampled 25 percent of the messages censored per day from September
11 to September 23 (five days after the protest), yielding almost 1,400 coded messages. As
displayed in Figure 6 below, the number of messages censored reached a peak on September 16, the day after the first round of the protests. Censorship decreased by September 17,
although the major protest activities in this wave took place on September 18. The number
of messages censored per day was lowest on September 20, when the protest had been
almost completely suppressed.

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Figure 6 (see previous page)
The percentage of items censored during the second wave of the protest generally
supports the hypothesis that the Chinese government allowed Internet users to promote
nationalist protest in response to the dispute, with an official reminder that opinions
should be expressed “rationally and within law” on September 16. The second wave of
the protest was largely suppressed by September 20, and no protests were reported on
September 19. As displayed in Figure 7, messages mentioning or promoting protests were
not subject to the greatest censorship until September 18, when the protests reached their
peak across the country.

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Figure 7
The Chinese government did not strictly censor messages in the second category between
September 11 and 17. During both waves of the protest, the Chinese government’s attitude
toward references to or promotion of anti-Japanese protest was fairly lenient, whereas
messages mentioning or criticizing aggressive action such as arson and vandalism were
censored. More than 54 percent of the messages posted on September 17 were censored
for criticizing the aggressiveness of the protests (Item 1). The following are typical examples of messages coded as item 1 that were censored on September 17.
(1) “Do people still remember the recent nuclear leak in Japan? Japan only
received a small amount of aid at that time, but nobody was scrambling for supSouthern California International Review - Vol. 5 No. 2

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45

plies. Rather, they were lining up. Those who did not receive aid simply continued
to wait, which reflected the Japanese sense of unity. Certain types of behavior,
such as destroying Japanese-brand cars, will only cause chaos. We should stay
calm. There is no use in being reckless and anxious.”62
(2) “When I see the anti-Japanese protests in mainland China, I can only exclaim
‘crazy’ and ‘shameful.’”63
(3) “Throughout the ages, historical change has been led by passionate but blind
demonstrators. In the end, these individuals are always sacrificed, and most of
them are just youngsters.”64
All of the examples above demonstrate that the Chinese government stringently
censored messages that criticized the aggressive behavior of the protesters, asked people
to calm down or blamed the government for sacrificing young people in the anti-Japanese
protests.
Few messages were censored for criticizing the government. As illustrated in Figure 7,
only seven to ten percent of the messages whose authors criticized the government were
censored, fitting into Weiss’s theory that the Chinese government wanted to expose its
vulnerability in order to demonstrate its resolve.

Theoretical Implications

The two sets of results reported above support Weiss’ theory that the Chinese government uses Internet censorship to aid its strategic signaling. The results of investigating the
first hypothesis confirm that a harsher tone was taken in China’s state media during the
second wave of the protests than during the first wave, offering a more definite signal at
both the domestic and international levels. At the domestic level, the harsher tone used
in the state media may be interpreted as a sign encouraging nationalists to organize and
participate in anti-Japanese protests. At the international level, this harsher tone persuaded foreign observers of the sincerity of the Chinese government during the 2012 SinoJapanese dispute.
The results of investigating the first hypothesis are also consistent with Stockmann’s
argument that the Chinese government used a softer tone after the protests to assuage
nationalistic sentiment. The findings suggest that the Chinese government used state
media and press restrictions on commercial media to manipulate public opinion for crisis
management, especially during international disputes.
62 
63 
64 

Ibid.
Ibid.
Ibid.

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Jackie, Siu-Huei Wong

The results of investigating the major research hypothesis suggest that the Chinese
government censored messages that criticized the protest while allowing Internet users to
promote protest activities until the protests were suppressed. These findings fit into Weiss’s
theory that governments seek to make protests appear as sincere and as costly as possible
to increase the credibility of their signals. By censoring negative opinions of the protest,
the Chinese government ensured that only messages promoting the protest were available
to foreign observers. At the domestic level, the large number of messages promoting nationalist protest in cyberspace helped the Chinese government to elicit nationalist protest.
These messages also provided an outlet for nationalists to express their anger.
The findings also suggest that Kang, Pan and Roberts oversimplify the role of government censorship in stating that the Chinese government removes any online messages
related to collective action but allows some degree of government criticism in cyberspace.65 The findings of this research suggest that the Chinese government instead allows
Internet users to promote collective action that is conducive to state policy. The results of
evaluating the second hypothesis reveal that the Chinese government carefully steered the
opinions expressed in cyberspace during the 2012 Senkaku Islands dispute. The Chinese
government was flexible in its censorship of messages related to collective action. Once
the government identified certain collective activities as conducive to state policy or strategic bargaining, it was likely to amend its censorship practices.

Japanese News Media Coverage

Although the second set of research findings confirm that the Chinese government
did not strictly censor messages that criticized the government’s moderate stance, this
censorship mechanism may solely be for domestic purposes. An alternative explanation is
that the Chinese government could use nationalism to increase popular support while attempting to undermine violent nationalism, especially during the CCP’s power transition
in 2012. In order to demonstrate that Internet censorship worked as part of the strategic
signaling, the author borrowed news articles from two major Japanese newspapers, The
Yomiuri Shimbun(読売新聞)and The Asahi Shimbun(朝日新聞), during the two-wave
protests to solve this puzzle. While the former one is considered a left-leaning and proChina newspaper, the latter one is considered a right-leaning newspaper. The author
found that both of these newspapers watched Chinese Internet users’ opinions towards the
two-wave anti-Japanese protests in their news articles and believed that the two-wave antiJapanese protests were self-organized.
For the right-leaning newspaper, The Yomiuri Shimbun(読売新聞), an article entitled
“China Shouldn’t Treat Suspects in Car Attack like Heroes” was published after the firstwave protests on September 3. The news article said that “an opinion survey conducted
65 

King, Pan and Roberts, “How Censorship in China,” 14-17.

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47

by a Chinese portal site on the Internet showed that 80 percent of respondents supported
the attack on the Japanese ambassador’s car. Japan was alarmed that many people praised
the attack and called the suspects “heroes.” The news article also stated that the patriotic
education in China added to the anti-Japanese sentiment but concluded that “Japanese
and Chinese leaders must try to rebuild the relations between their nations by holding numerous discussions from a broader perspective and in a calm manner.”66 Another
news article entitled “China Should not go too far in its Response Over Senkakus” was
published four days before the second-wave protests on September 15. The news article
stated that “growing anti-Japan sentiment in China also is a cause of concern. With the
approach of the September 18 anniversary of the Liutiaohu Incident, which triggered
the Manchurian Incident, calls to join anti-Japan protests have been made through the
Internet across China,” and “China should not unilaterally close the channels of exchange
of communications.”67
The left-leaning newspaper, The Asahi Shimbun(朝日新聞), published an article
entitled “China nationalists Burn Japanese, Police Limit Damage” a day after the first-wave
protest on August 20.68 The news article reported that the Chinese government removed
Internet messages about the protest but also observed that Chinese Internet users criticized the Chinese government for “doing little after Japanese nationalists landed on Senkakus.” On August 30, a news article entitled “China in Dilemma over Next Move in Flag
Flap,” stated that the Chinese government was caught in a dilemma in which it wanted to
“prevent relations from worsening with Japan,” and arresting the man who ripped a flag
from the limousine of Japan’s ambassador would ignite public anger.69 Lastly, a day after
the second-wave protests on September 19, a news article entitled “Chinese Authorities
Struggle to Keep Lid on Anti-Japanese Protests” noted that the Chinese government was
trying very hard to keep the protest in control, and Chinese police forces used the Internet
to warn people not to violate the law during the protest.70
Interestingly, both of these major Japanese newspapers paid special attention to
Chinese Internet user opinions. Both newspapers’ articles reported that the protests were
organized by Internet users. Additionally, both newspapers’ articles stated that the nationalistic sentiment would backfire the Chinese government for its dovish stance, which
66  “China Shouldn’t Treat Suspects in Car Attack like Heroes,” The Yomiuri Shimbun, September 3, 2012, last accessed March
10, 2015.
67  “China Should Not Go Too Far in Its Response over Senkakus,” The Yomiuri Shimbun, September 14, 2012, last accessed
March 10, 2015.
68  “China nationalists Burn Japanese, Police Limit Damage,” The Asahi Shimbun, August 20, 2012, last accessed March 10,
2015.
69  “China in Dilemma over Next Move in Flag Flap,” The Asahi Shimbun, August 30, 2012, last accessed March 10, 2015.
70  “Chinese Authorities Struggle to Keep Lid on Anti-Japanese Protests,” The Asahi Shimbun, September 19, 2012, last accessed March 10, 2015.

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brought China into a dilemma in handling the Sino-Japanese relations. All of the above
are consistent with the logic of strategic signaling. On the one hand, the government
exposed the state’s vulnerability to demonstrate its high audience cost by allowing Internet
users to criticize the Chinese government to some extent. On the other hand, permitting
Chinese Internet users to promote two-wave nationalist protests aided the Chinese government to convey a credible signal.
As the focus of this research is the Chinese government’s use of Internet censorship to
aid its strategic signaling, this essay does not discuss the international and domestic effects
of the two-wave anti-Japanese protests as signaling in detail. Nevertheless, the findings of
this research suggest that the Chinese government’s use of Internet censorship in 2012 was
consistent with Weiss’s theory, as the government sought to convey a clear signal to Japan
by presenting the nationalist protests as sincere, credible and costly.

Limitations and Conclusion

The findings of this research suggest that the Chinese government used Internet censorship to convey signals to Japan during the 2012 Sino-Japanese Senkaku Islands dispute.
The two hypotheses detailed above delineate the Chinese government’s strategic manipulation of news media and Internet censorship during the dispute. However, the research
has some possible limitations. Although the author investigated the first hypothesis by
conducting content analysis of two types of newspapers, he was not able to obtain data
online from fully-commercialized newspapers. The resulting lack of comparison between
official and commercialized China newspapers may have reduced the reliability of the
findings. In addition, the online versions of newspapers may differ from their printed versions, leading to different results. Lastly, the author investigated the first hypothesis using
only newspapers whose tones may have differed from that of other media.
To investigate the second hypothesis, the author only coded messages containing the word
“protest” without considering other sensitive words such as “demonstration” or “stroll.”
Coding other messages that contain the latter two words may have generated different
results. In addition, as the Weiboscope database contains only messages in textual form,
the author was unable to collect graphic messages censored by the Chinese government in
2012. Lastly, the author coded only censored messages from Sina Weibo; he did not consider other patriotic websites or discussion forums such as TieXue, which provides major
platforms for the discussion of Sino-foreign affairs.
The Chinese government undeniably manipulated traditional news media and carried out Internet censorship in support of the 2012 anti-Japanese nationalist protests.
Therefore, the occurrence of nationalist protests should not be interpreted as a sign that
aggressive nationalistic sentiment constrains the foreign-policy making of the Chinese
government. On the contrary, the nationalist protests were used by the government to
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49

enhance its strategic signaling and bargaining. During the South China Sea dispute of
2014, Vietnam appeared to use similar tactics to convey signals to China; however, the
anti-Chinese protests in Vietnam eventually turned into riots, rather than state-managed
nationalist protests.71 Nevertheless, not enough empirical research has been regarding the
effects of Internet censorship on nationalist protests. Scholars should further investigate
the promotion of nationalist protests by the Vietnamese government and the responses of
Chinese netizens and the Chinese media and determine whether the Chinese government
censored messages related to the anti-Chinese protests.
The current research also offers far-reaching insights into the flexibility of online
censorship in China, which enables the Chinese government to manipulate public opinion
to manage foreign and domestic crises. In 2013 and 2015, the Chinese government introduced a real-name registration mandate for users of Sina Weibo and established a much
more restrictive Internet firewall. These measures may provide the government with even
tighter control of online information flow.72 Therefore, the government is likely to continue using Internet censorship as a political and strategic instrument.
The focus of this study is the 2012 Sino-Japanese Senkaku Islands dispute. However,
future researchers are encouraged to explore the insights provided by Internet censorship
into other international-security problems and strategic interactions. The relationship
between China’s foreign policy and the growth of cyberspace in China is a particularly
fruitful new topic. More research in this area would enrich the literature on the relationship between public opinion and foreign-policy making in autocracies, and the influence
of this relationship on international security as a whole.

71  Michelle FlorCruz, “Anti-China Riots in Vietnam Following South China Sea Standoff Spark Online Vitriol Among Chinese.” International Business Times, May 15, 2014, last accessed March 10, 2015.
72  Kristie Lu Stout, “China’s Great Firewall: Fortune at the Expense of Freedom?” CNN, March 25, 2015, last accessed April 1,
2015.; Green, Nathan, “Real Name Registration: Is the Last Free Space on China’s Internet Disappearing?,” Pandodaily, January 2,
2013, last accessed March 12, 2015.

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Appendix 1
Basic Statistics Relating to First Hypothesis
1. People’s Liberation Army Daily (解放軍報)
Average Tone

N (Number of News Articles)

Before August 16

29.13333333

15

Before August 19

-5

4

After August 19

-5.9375

15

Before September 20

-14.23529412

17

After September 20

-8.233333333

30

Total

81

2. People’s Daily (人民日報)
Average Tone

N (Number of News Articles)

Before August 16

16.72727273

19

Before August 19

-2

2

After August 19

0

0

Before September 20

-17.33333333

6

After September 20

0.826086957

23

Total

50

3. Beijing Youth Daily (北京青年報)
Average Tone

N (Number of News Articles)

Before August 16

-2.3125

16

Before August 19

-6.75

4

After August 19

-6.9166667

12

Before September 20

-11.083333

12

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After September 20

51

-2.3913043

23

Total

67

Appendix 2
Basic Statistics Relating to Second Hypothesis
First Wave of Protest
Item 1

Item 2

Item 3

Item 4

Item 5

Item 6

Total

15 August

2

28

17

10

10

0

67

16 August

2

33

27

16

19

5

102

17 August

2

21

14

20

24

4

85

18 August

0

16

9

19

58

3

105

19 August

202

153

14

66

27

6

468

20 August

68

64

4

15

25

2

178

21 August

22

41

5

6

26

2

102

22 August

4

15

4

17

16

0

56

23 August

2

7

1

0

14

0

24

24 August

2

6

2

1

21

0

32

Sum

1219

Second Wave of Protest
Item 1

Item 2

Item 3

Item 4

Item 5

Item 6

Total

11 September

10

6

1

2

15

0

34

12 September

4

22

5

5

27

1

64

13 September

18

5

0

9

23

2

57

14 September

16

9

2

3

20

1

51

15 September

100

17

4

11

19

2

153

16 September

211

49

13

22

35

0

330

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17 September

101

35

16

11

24

0

187

18 September

35

62

10

15

23

3

148

19 September

53

17

5

7

13

0

95

20 September

9

10

3

0

4

1

27

21 September

69

5

5

12

14

0

105

22 September

20

3

42

7

7

0

79

23 September

5

4

18

3

8

0

38

Sum

1368

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Nathan, Green. “Real Name Registration: Is the Last Free Space on China’s Internet Disappearing?” Pandodaily. January 2, 2013. http://pando.com/2013/01/02/real-name-registration-is-the-last-free-space-on-chinas-internet-disappearing/
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Towards Mature Justice

Expanding the Mandate of the International Criminal Court’s
Independent Oversight Mechanism
Emily Tsui

The creation of an Independent Oversight Mechanism (IOM) in 2009 for the International
Criminal Court (ICC) marked a turning point in the Court’s development, as this creation
sought to make the Court more accountable and transparent. However, Footnote 6 of Article
27 of the resolution that created the IOM explicitly excluded the IOM from investigating the
relationship between intermediaries or those who facilitate the collection of evidence for Prosecutors in the country of investigation and the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP). This paper will
argue that this limitation should be reconsidered; by granting the IOM powers to investigate
intermediaries, the Court’s public perception, efficiency and economy and rendering of judicial
decisions will be improved.
“Peace and justice are indivisible.” – Kofi Annan, 19971

Introduction

The International Criminal Court (ICC) exists to put on trial the perpetrators of the
most heinous international crimes. In fulfilling this goal, the Court can deprive a state
citizen of his or her individual freedom.2 It is a sui generis institution that combines civil
and common law, requires the cooperation of many actors and third-party intermediaries
and spans across vast geographic and cultural distances in order to bring justice to conflict
and post-conflict societies. To be legitimate by the standards of local and national governments, the ICC must act without conflicts of interest and corruption.3 The Court has
done much in recent years to achieve this, including the establishment of the Independent
Oversight Mechanism (IOM) in 2009. However, Footnote 6 of Article 27 of Resolution
ICC-ASP/12/Res.6 establishing the IOM’s operational mandate explicitly removed intermediaries from its jurisdiction.4 This paper argues that the exclusion of intermediaries
1  Kofi Annan, “Advocating for an International Criminal Court,” Fordham International Law Journal 21 no. 2 (1997): 365.
2  Milan Markovic, “The ICC Prosecutor’s Missing Code of Conduct,” Texas International Law Journal 47 no, 1 (2011): 208.
3  José E. Alvarez, “The Proposed Independent Oversight Mechanism for the International Criminal Court,” International
Criminal Court Forum.
4  International Criminal Court Assembly of States Parties, Independent Oversight Mechanism, Resolution ICC-ASP/12/Res.6
(2013), 42.

Emily Tsui is a senior at the University of Toronto pursuing a specialist in
International Relations, major in European Studies and minor in Political Science.

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from the IOM’s mandate in the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) is detrimental to the public
perception of the ICC, the efficiency and economy of the Court and the judicial process at
large. This point is proved by assessing the status of intermediaries at the ICC, the varying
interpretations of the Rome Statute from the views of the OTP and the Assembly of States
Parties (ASP) and the mandate and budget of the IOM, as well as various ICC cases.

Scope of the Issue

The ICC’s first cases brought forward a number of issues. This paper focuses mainly
on the absence of accountability measures for the use of intermediaries in the OTP. Frederic Megret defines accountability as “a process (and the procedures that go with it), or an
end-state, a quality (that of being accountability).”
Thomas Lubanga was the defendant in the Court’s first trial and was eventually convicted of the enlistment and conscription of children under the age of fifteen in his army
in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).5 This trial was riddled with problems, which
twice included the stay of proceedings, once in 2008 and once in 2010 for the OTP’s resistance to the Trial Chamber’s disclosure of information surrounding intermediaries accused of committing offenses against Article 706 of the Rome Statute.7 The Trial Chamber
recognized the problem, and the trial judges found that intermediaries 143, 316 and 321
may have directly violated Article 70 by coaching witnesses to provide false testimonies8
Half of the witnesses were contacted by just nine intermediaries. Of the nine who testified
to having been child soldiers, none of them were deemed acceptable by the Court.9 This
issue of intermediaries is a lacuna that the ICC must address because the Lubanga trial is
not an isolated incident.
In a 2012 case Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, also from the DRC, was charged in court with
three crimes against humanity and seven war crimes. He was acquitted partially because
the Trial Chamber dismissed “child soldier” witnesses as unreliable.10 In a more recent
case, Prosecutor v. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, the Kenyan president was charged with crimes
against humanity but was acquitted in 2014. Again, serious accusations of the OTP’s inter-

5  Caroline Buisman, “Delegating Investigations: Lessons to Be Learned from the Lubanga Judgment,” Northwestern Journal of
International Human Rights 11 no.3 (2013): 31.
6  Article 70 violations are offences against the administration of justice, which include giving false testimony, preventing false
or forged evidence, corruptly influencing a witness, and more. See Rome Statute for more details.
7  Jenia Iontcheva Turner, “Policing International Prosecutors,” New York University Journal of International Law and Politics 45
no.1 (2012): 189-190.
8  Wairagala Wakabi, “Why ICC Prosecutor Did Not Charge Intermediaries Over Witness Tampering,” International Justice
Monitor, June 26, 2014.
9  Buisman, “Delegating Investigations,” 32.
10  Ibid., 42.

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mediaries’ misconduct were prevalent throughout the Defense’s arguments.11 The need to
regulate intermediaries continues to grow as the OTP is now investigating crimes in the
Ivory Coast, Uganda, Darfur, Libya, and Mali and is conducting preliminary examinations
on a number of other countries.12

Defining Intermediaries

This paper uses the definition stated in the 2014 Court document “Guidelines
Governing the Relations between the Court and Intermediaries” (Guidelines), which
identifies an “intermediary” as “someone who comes between one person and another;
who facilitates contact or provides a link between one of the organs or units of the Court
or Counsel on the one hand, and victims, witnesses, beneficiaries of reparations and/or
affected communities more broadly on the other.”13 In the OTP, these agents are particularly critical in an investigation because of budgetary and staffing limitations, language
and cultural differences and geographical separation of many cases from the trials.14 They
are also useful for their links to non-governmental organizations and the United Nations,
their ability to travel where the ICC is unwelcome and the capacity to transmit information correctly.15 Therefore, prohibiting the use of intermediaries is neither possible nor
desirable, and maintaining their cooperation through confidentiality agreements is a chief
priority. However, the OTP has traditionally held these protective measures to a somewhat
unreasonable degree.16
Since Fatou Bensouda assumed the ICC position of Chief Prosecutor, steps have been
taken to improve investigations, signalling a departure from the previous prosecutor’s position that the judges had been “overly harsh” in their criticism of the OTP in the Lubanga
case.17 While actions like the Guidelines are welcome in the Court, they do not override a
need for the IOM to take responsibility in regulating the OTP’s relations with intermediaries. An examination of the IOM’s history and the legal position of intermediaries at the
ICC will help explain why its mandate to exclude intermediaries is outdated and in need
of correction.

11  Simon Jennings and Bernard Koech, “Limited Remit for New ICC Watchdog,” Institute for War and Peace Reporting, February 4, 2014.
12  “Office of the Prosecutor,” International Criminal Court.
13  International Criminal Court, Guidelines Governing the Relations between the Court and Intermediaries for the Organs and
Units of the Court and Counsel working with Intermediaries, March 2014: 5.
14  Edmunds and Haslam, “Managing a New,” 50.
15  Buisman, “Delegating Investigations,” 34.
16  This is especially seen in the Lubanga case, where Moreno-Ocampo refused to disclose his intermediaries’ identities to the
Defense, even when it would have been protected from the public.
17  Ibid., 77.

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Legal Status of Intermediaries and the IOM

Before the establishment of the Guidelines, intermediaries existed in a legal vacuum
at the ICC and were not addressed in the Rome Statute and Rules of Procedure and Evidence.18 However, the IOM existed since the drafting of the Rome Statute, with a provision
under the ASP’s powers in Article 112(4) that allows for the establishment of “an independent oversight mechanism for inspection, evaluation and investigation of the Court, in
order to enhance its efficiency and economy.”19 The ASP first discussed the possibility of
creating an IOM during its fourth session in 2005, but it was not until the eighth session
in 2009 that a resolution was passed that established the basic structure of the IOM.20 This
mandate called upon the investigative function of the IOM to be implemented immediately, but the evaluation and inspection functions were clarified in the next session.21
This coincided with developments in the Lubanga trial where the Defense identified
inconsistencies in the witnesses’ statements and argued that OTP investigations on its intermediaries could result in a conflict of interest.22 Between the eighth and ninth sessions,
Moreno-Ocampo protested loudly that the proposed proprio motu powers of the IOM
would be in conflict with Article 42 of the Rome Statute, which guaranteed prosecutorial
independence.23 Tensions between the Court’s Chambers and the OTP began to flare up.24
As discrepancies between the 2009 and 2010 resolutions illustrate, it was at this time that
the IOM’s intended mandate to oversee disputes of contractors—which implicitly included intermediaries25—was removed. Resolution ICC-ASP/12/Res.6 identifies the IOM’s
mandate to build on the “efficiency and economy” provisions of Article 112(4) and also
qualifies in Article 30 of this mandate to exclude investigations of the nature of the Rome
Statute’s Article 70. In the travaux préparatoires, there was no intention to exclude the
IOM’s mandate from these violations, and there was always a possibility for the mechanism to investigate new issues as they arose.25
Article 70 and the need for the IOM to oversee intermediaries are inextricably linked
as portrayed in developments in the Lubanga, Ngudjolo and Kenyatta cases. During this
time, there were calls for a code of conduct for intermediaries to be formalized, and the
18  Edmunds and Haslam, “Managing a New,” 34.
19  International Criminal Court, Statute of the International Criminal Court, July 17 1998, UN Doc. No. A/CONF.183/9,
(Entered into force 1 July 2002): 76.
20  Michelle Coleman, Monica Feltz, et. al., Assessing the Role of the Independent Oversight Mechanism in Enhancing the Efficiency and Economy of the ICC, (Universiteit Utrecht, 2011): 13.
21  “Report on the 12th Session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute,” Coalition for the International Criminal
Court, 35.
22  Jennings and Koech, “Limited Remit.”
23  Turner, “Policing International,” 242.
24  Markovic, “The ICC’s Prosecutors,” 203.
25  S. Rama Rao, “Article 112,” in Commentary on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: Observers’ Notes, Article
by Article, ed. Otto Triffterer. 2nd ed. (Munich: Beck, 2008), 1690.

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first draft was created in 2009. It was later refined in 2012 in a reflection on the Lubanga
judgement.26 The final Guidelines in 2014 filled the hole in the ICC’s accountability mechanisms to formalize intermediary violations of the Rome Statute’s Article 70. This was
not enough, as there was no provision for a mechanism to oversee how these Guidelines
were being respected; instead, the IOM should have filled in this gap. This inclusion of the
IOM’s mandate to inspect violations of Article 70 by intermediaries will benefit the Court.
Furthermore, providing the IOM with the power to conduct investigations on intermediaries is not contrary to the independence of the OTP as initially feared but instead
expands the Court’s overall effectiveness. The current operational mandate indicates that
the IOM must consult with the Head of the Organ it is about to investigate. There are
quite extensive provisions to promote cooperation with the organ.27 Combined with the
Guidelines, the IOM is granted a significant opportunity to more effectively perform the
functions of investigations, inspection and evaluation as per Article 112(4) of the Rome
Statute. In a study of the IOM, the Bureau of the ASP even indicated that the latter’s main
function was to “ensure that staff misconduct does not go unpunished, [and] that staff
have a right to due process, and that complaints are investigated and an effective remedy provided.”28 Part of the justification for doing so was that it would make the OTP
less prone to criticism in the case of misconduct by one of its intermediaries. As will be
proven, granting the IOM this power will help to improve the public perception, efficiency
and economy of the court and will positively contribute to the Court’s judicial decisions.

Public Perception

The actions and decisions of the ICC have immense implications for post-conflict
societies and the international community. This public perception of the Court in these
domains is a key reason to include intermediaries into the IOM’s mandate.

Implications for Post-Conflict Societies

At the heart of this issue are acts of misconduct by the intermediaries and ICC judgements that directly affect transitional justice in post-conflict societies. For the wider public, intermediaries are the face of the ICC and the standard to which the ICC’s effectiveness can tangibly be measured.29 It is also a way for the locals to evaluate their trust in this
organisation and ultimately the degree to which further cooperation is deemed desirable
26  International Criminal Court, Guidelines Governing the Relations between the Court and Intermediaries for the Organs and
Units of the Court and Counsel working with Intermediaries, March 2014.
27  International Criminal Court, Independent Oversight Mechanism.
28  International Criminal Court, Assembly of States Parties, Report of the Bureau on an Independent Oversight Mechanism,
ICC-ASP/7/28, 2008, 3.
29  International Criminal Court, Assembly of States Parties, Report of the Bureau on the Establishment of an Independent
Oversight Mechanism, ICC-ASP/8/2/Add.3., 2009, 6.

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or fruitful.30 In the Lubanga case, the stay of proceedings resulting from misconduct is
particularly troublesome to victims and those who assisted the Court, as they may potentially become subject to revenge. Furthermore, if intermediaries are unable to find proper
witnesses, the victims may lose the opportunity to speak out and present their case.31 As a
result, their ability to dictate the historical narrative of the conflict is drastically reduced.
In the Lubanga case, Lubanga was convicted on the use of child soldiers with zero of nine
alleged former child soldiers’ testimonies.32 However, in upholding principles of accountability and citing irrelevance, the OTP refused to charge any intermediary that was alleged
to have acted in violation of Article 70 of the Rome Statute.33 On this account, the IOM’s
mandate should be amended to include the inspection of these violations while working
with the OTP. Moreover, by allowing the IOM proprio motu powers in consultation with
the OTP, there is a chance to effectively protect intermediaries who are performing their
jobs correctly by making the corrupt individuals more accountable for their actions.

Implications for the International Community

States party to the Rome Statute are also scrutinizing the effectiveness of the Rome
Statute in carrying out justice and any potential damages to its reputation. As the Rome
Statute derives its power from states, it is accountable to the ASP, which has a vested interest to see the Court function in its most efficient manner and receive the greatest marginal
returns.34 For states that have not signed the Rome Statute, misconduct by intermediaries
gives them a further excuse not to be a party to the Court’s jurisdiction. Incidents like the
ICC’s arrest warrant in 2013 for an OTP intermediary charged with contempt of court are
especially damaging to the Court’s reputation and will deter the desirable expansion to
global membership.35 Furthermore, as the ICC strives to develop a “human rights culture”
and respect by fair trial, it is imperative that it lead by example for national justice systems.36 It is in the best interest of the IOM to identify and close effectiveness and reputational gaps in the ICC.

30  Edmunds and Haslam, “Managing a New,” 52.
31  Coleman, Feltz, et. al., Assessing the Role, 42.
32  Wakabi, “Why ICC Prosecutor.”
33  Jennings and Koech, “Limited Remit.”
34  Harmen Van Der Wilt, “The Demand of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court That Any Investigation by
the Independent Oversight Mechanism into Alleged Misconduct of His Staff Members Requires His Prior Authorization Is Not
Unreasonable or Far-fetched,” International Criminal Court Forum.
35  Jennings and Koech, “Limited Remit.”
36  Turner, “Policing International,” 205.

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Improving Efficiency and Economy

The use of intermediaries can be seen as positively contributing to the “efficiency
and economy” of the Court. To maximize this potential, however, it is necessary for the
IOM to regulate the intermediaries’ activities. For the purposes of this paper, the term
“efficiency” will be used as per the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services’
(UNOIOS) definition, which refers to it as “a measure of how well inputs (funds, staff,
time, etc.) are converted into outputs.”37 “Economy” will be defined by the International
Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions as “minimising (sic) the cost of resources used
for an activity, having regard to the appropriate quality.”38 An effective and neutral IOM
that has proprio motu powers can promote “good governance” by conducting internal
reviews and making recommendations on how to improve the Court’s overall performance and productivity.39 The Bureau of the ASP noted that “as long as the Court has no
independent oversight mechanism, it can only deal with misconduct internally, ‘which is
not objectively credible.’”40 Placing intermediaries into the IOM’s mandate will address this
credibility gap and will increase the efficiency and economy of the Court through working
with the OTP.41

Improving Efficiency

The efficiency of the Court can also be improved through effective oversight, as it will
allow the OTP to better convert the work of its “inputs,” the intermediaries, into “outputs,”
the evidence collection and building witness connections. As stated, the use of intermediaries is good practice for the OTP. However, it is also in the best interest of that organ to
check its process in selecting individuals that may negatively influence the evidence and
stress the OTP’s limited resources.42 In particular, it will allow the OTP to better assess
the security situation on the ground. Without strict control, intermediaries are granted
the opportunity to exaggerate reports of the security situation on the ground in order to
justify relocation of witnesses, as seen in the Lubanga, Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga,
and Ngudjolo cases.43 Relocation was regarded as a mechanism of last resort for the OTP
but was used frequently to assure witnesses of their safety. This procedure is expensive
and reduces the incentive for intermediaries to look for real witnesses instead of buying
37  Coleman, Feltz, et. al., Assessing the Role, 37.
38  Ibid., 38.
39  Agatha Porter, “An Independent Oversight Mechanism for the International Criminal Court,” The American Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition for the International Criminal Court, February 6, 2008, 1.
40  Van Der Wilt, “The Demand Of.”
41  International Criminal Court, Assembly of States Parties, Strengthening the International Criminal Court and the Assembly
of State Parties, ICC-ASP/12/20, November 27, 2013.
42  Christodoulos Kaoutzanis, “The Turbulent Adolescence Ahead: The ICC’s Insistence on Disclosure in the Lubanga
Trial,” Washington University Global Studies Law Review 12 no.263 (2013): 306.
43  Buisman, “Delegating Investigations,” 68.

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fraudulent ones. Criticisms by the Trial Chamber noted that efficiency was sacrificed in
the Lubanga case in favor of protective measures.44 Allowing the IOM to examine this issue will increase the potential to improve efficiency by encouraging the OTP to assess the
claims that the intermediaries are making with greater diligence and craft a strategy for
the OTP to determine the best practices in contacting intermediaries in the future. It will
reinforce existing disciplinary structures to make its “inputs” the most effective they can
be.45

Improving Economy

The IOM looks promising in terms of improving the economy of the Court through
expertise in oversight, reducing unnecessary overlapping financial expenditures in accomplishing the same task and cutting down on frivolous costs. The IOM will be headed by a
P-5 level professional46 and will be staffed with a team devoted to accomplishing its mandate with assistance from the specialized UNOIOS.47 Instead of the OTP dealing with cases of misconduct on a costly ad-hoc basis, the professionalization of an investigative force
will improve the Court’s economy. Furthermore, the IOM currently has a separate budget
of about €373,000 established independent from any other organ.48 This would reduce the
strain on the OTP’s already overstretched resources to allow it to focus on prosecution.49
Furthermore, the witnesses in the Lubanga, Katanga and Ngudjolo cases alleged that they
were bribed with money, education and free re-housing to give false testimonies.50 Aside
from the obvious problematic implications on the Court’s credibility, corruption and
bribery are costly, and an IOM that can oversee the mishandling of expenses will allow for
optimization of the Court’s budget. Furthermore, the defensiveness of Moreno-Ocampo
in protecting the intermediaries’ identities resulted in a delayed start of the Lubanga trial,
driving up costs significantly and hampering the overall judicial process.

Improving the Judicial Process

The intermediaries’ acts of misconduct may result in several unintended consequences, including skewed Court decisions or delays in the judicial process, and a sentence
reduction may be seen as an acceptable compensation to the Defense for these mishaps.51
44  Coleman, Feltz, et. al., Assessing the Role, 62.
45  International Criminal Court, Assembly of States Parties, Report of the Bureau on the Independent Oversight Mechanism,
ICC-ASP/9/31, 2010, 21.
46  The P-5 level at the UN has a minimum of 10 years of work experience and an advanced university degree. (“Staff Categories”).
47  International Criminal Court, Independent Oversight Mechanism.
48  “Report on the 12th.”
49  Buisman, “Delegating Investigations,” 79.
50  Ibid., 61.
51  Turner, “Policing International,” 224.

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In confronting problems with the OTP, the Court must achieve a delicate balance between
public interest and individual rights in the administration of justice. Unfortunately, intermediaries cast a shadow on the judicial process, as they can lead the OTP to misevaluate
the local situation and cause an omission of both important exculpatory and inculpatory
evidence.

Exculpatory Evidence

The OTP’s resistance in the Lubanga case to provide the Defense with the identity of
sources who were alleged to have held potential exculpatory evidence calls into question
the ability of the Court to investigate misconduct effectively, namely Article 70 violations.55 The IOM mandate, if extended to fill this gap, would allow for an independent
assessment of the extent to which confidentiality agreements are so strictly held that they
are not disclosed to anyone outside of the OTP. It would also help to identify the existence
of exculpatory evidence. Theoretically, it is the responsibility of the Pre-Trial Chamber
to conduct investigations before such problems arise in Court, but there must also be an
independent third party to assess situations in which flaws are missed. In a number of
cases, the Defense lamented the extent of identity protection for the OTP’s intermediaries.
Although in almost all these instances the confidentiality agreements are rightfully used,
the potential for exculpatory evidence to exist and go unchecked is in violation of the
Court’s Rules and Procedures of Evidence. An IOM with a broader mandate to investigate
these claims will improve the Court’s overall accountability and judicial process.

Inculpatory Evidence

Future cases must rectify the ineffectiveness of previous cases in collecting inculpatory evidence for the intermediaries. The Trial Chamber convicted Lubanga on charges
independent from the witnesses who claim to have been the subjects of his crimes.52 The
judgement may have been more just to his victims and may have helped to correct the
historical record had the intermediaries been able to spend their resources on contacting
the real victims of his crimes.

Conclusion

Overall, the Court would benefit from an extension of the IOM’s mandate to
include the oversight of intermediaries used in the OTP as it will improve public perceptions, the efficiency and economy of the Court and its judicial process. Recent moves by
Bensouda allude to improvements in reconciling the previous antagonism between the
OTP and the ASP over the IOM. The ASP must seize this opportunity by collaborating
with the OTP to develop a more effective accountability mechanism for intermediaries,
52 

Ibid., 32.

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which serve a critical role in the Court, before the IOM’s operational review during the
ASP’s upcoming fifteenth session. As the Court grows in its adolescent phase, it becomes
increasingly necessary to consistently review existing structures and make appropriate
modifications such as this in order to allow it to flourish in adulthood.53

53 

Kaoutzanis, “The Turbulent Adolescence.”

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Works Cited
Alvarez, José E. “The Proposed Independent Oversight Mechanism for the International
Criminal Court.” International Criminal Court Forum. Accessed December 20, 2014.
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Annan, Kofi. “Advocating for an International Criminal Court.” Fordham International Law
Journal 21 no.2 (1997). Accessed February 12, 2015. http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/cgi/
viewcontent.cgi?article=2237&context=ilj.
Buisman, Caroline. “Delegating Investigations: Lessons to Be Learned from the Lubanga
Judgment.” Northwestern Journal of International Human Rights 11 no.3 (2013): 31-82.
Accessed January 20, 2015. http://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1143&context=njihr.
Coleman, Michelle, Monica Feltz, Evgenia Giakoumopoulou, Steven Mubiru, Gergana Rabatileva, Chelsea Sayles, and Antonina Vikhrest. Assessing the Role of the Independent
Oversight Mechanism in Enhancing the Efficiency and Economy of the ICC. Universiteit
Utrecht, 2011. Accessed December 20, 2014. http://www.iilj.org/newsandevents/documents/iomfinalpaperaspublishedinotpwebsite.pdf.
Edmunds, Rod and Emily Haslam. “Managing A New “Partnership”: “Professionalization,”
Intermediaries and the International Criminal Court.” Criminal Law Forum 24 (2013).
Accessed December 20, 2014. http://journals2.scholarsportal.info.myaccess.library.
utoronto.ca/pdf/10468374/v24i0001/49_man.xml.
International Criminal Court, Assembly of States Parties. Independent Oversight Mechanism. 2013. Resolution ICC-ASP/12/Res.6. Accessed December 20, 2014. http://www.
icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/asp_docs/Resolutions/ASP12/ICC-ASP-12-Res6-ENG.pdf.
International Criminal Court, Assembly of States Parties. Report of the Bureau on an Independent Oversight Mechanism. 2008. ICC-ASP/7/28. Accessed January 8, 2015. http://
iccforum.com/media/background/oversight/2008-11-04_Report_ICC-ASP-7-28_
(English).pdf.
International Criminal Court, Assembly of States Parties. Report of the Bureau on the Establishment of an Independent Oversight Mechanism. 2009. ICC-ASP/8/2/Add.3. Accessed
January 8, 2015. http://iccforum.com/media/background/oversight/2009-04-15_Report_ICC-ASP-8-2_(English).pdf.
International Criminal Court, Assembly of States Parties. Report of the Bureau on the Independent Oversight Mechanism. 2010. ICC-ASP/9/31. Accessed January 8, 2015. http://
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(English).pdf.
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International Criminal Court, Assembly of States Parties. Strengthening the International
Criminal Court and the Assembly of State Parties. Last modified November 27, 2013.
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Resolutions/ASP12/ICC-ASP-12-Res8-ENG.pdf.
International Criminal Court. Guidelines Governing the Relations between the Court and Intermediaries for the Organs and Units of the Court and Counsel working with Intermediaries. Last modified March 2014. Accessed December 29, 2014. http://www.icc-cpi.int/
en_menus/icc/legal%20texts%20and%20tools/strategies-and-guidelines/Documents/
GRCI-Eng.pdf.
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December 20, 2014. http://www.icc-cpi.int/nr/rdonlyres/ea9aeff7-5752-4f84-be940a655eb30e16/0/rome_statute_english.pdf?wptouch_preview_theme=enabled.
Jennings, Simon and Bernard Koech. “Limited Remit for New ICC Watchdog.”  Institute
for War and Peace Reporting. Last modified February 4, 2014. Accessed December 20,
2014. https://iwpr.net/global-voices/limited-remit-new-icc-watchdog.
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Disclosure in the Lubanga Trial.” Washington University Global Studies Law Review 12
no.263 (2013): 265-310. Accessed January 17, 2015. http://simplelink.library.utoronto.
ca/url.cfm/464270.
Markovic, Milan. “The ICC Prosecutor’s Missing Code of Conduct.” Texas International
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ew/962443775?accountid=14771.
Mégret, Frédéric. “Accountability and Ethics.” International Prosecutors. Edited by Luc Reydams, Cedric Ryngaert, and Jan Wouters. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2012.
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Porter, Agatha. “An Independent Oversight Mechanism for the International Criminal
Court.” The American Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition for the International
Criminal Court. Last modified February 6, 2008. Accessed December 27, 2014. http://
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for the International Criminal Court. Accessed January 30, 2015. http://www.iccnow.
org/documents/asp12_report.pdf.
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un.org/lbw/home.aspx?viewtype=SC.
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nyuilp45&id=179.
Van Der Wilt, Harmen. “The Demand of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal
Court That Any Investigation by the Independent Oversight Mechanism into Alleged
Misconduct of His Staff Members Requires His Prior Authorization Is Not Unreasonable or Far-fetched.” International Criminal Court Forum. Accessed December 20,
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Tampering.” International Justice Monitor. June 26, 2014. Accessed December 27, 2014.
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China’s Parallel Grand Strategy

Roads Toward Hegemony Through an Emerging Military
Presence in Africa
Alexander Bobroske

This paper outlines China’s increased military presence in Africa since 1989 and examines
Beijing’s departure from a traditional interpretation of “non-interference” regarding foreign
affairs. Additionally, this paper analyzes the various economic and political motivations for
China’s military expansion, establishing China as Africa’s largest trading partner, and attaining sizeable economic and energy investments on the continent due to its “Going Out” strategy.
Further analysis, however, demonstrates that China’s underlying political motivations to become a global power and leader of the developing world plays a considerable role in catalyzing
China’s military expansion. This paper then makes recommendations to African and Western
leaders of how best to influence China’s military expansion for its own benefit. This paper
concludes that despite China’s ultimate grand strategy to rise as a capitalistic pacifist, or as an
eventual aggressive political revisionist state directly challenging the United States) , the country will continue expanding its military presence in Africa while departing from its traditional
policy of “non-interference.”

Introduction

In The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, John Mearsheimer theorizes that great powers
are primarily concerned with survival yet “rarely content with current distribution” of
power, and thus they wait for the opportune time to actively pursue their ultimate goal of
hegemony.1 In “Bandwagoning for Profit: Bringing the Revisionist State Back In,” Randall
Schweller refers to such a state that acts toward its hegemonic objective as a “revisionist
state,” actively challenging the status quo.2 China’s current grand strategy shifts from great
power aspirations to a regional and even worldly hegemon. China could be classified as a
revisionist state, seeking to establish hegemony first in East Asia, which currently houses
multiple regional powers including the United States military and eventually establish
global hegemony by neutralizing and superseding the political and military power of the
United States.
In “The Capitalistic Peace,” Eric Gartzke argues that capitalism has significantly
1  John Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, New York: Norton, 2001, 1, 21.
2  Randall L. Schweller, “Bandwagoning for Profit: Bringing the Revisionist State Back In,” International Security 19, no. 1
(1994), 104.

Alexander Bobroske is a junior in Georgetown University’s Edmund A.
Walsh School of Foreign Service studying International Politics.

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diminished interstate wars because land is devalued while economic prosperity is best
achieved through trade rather than war.3 Gartzke concludes that “capitalism invokes
powerful pacifists” who ensure sufficient military strength to be free but “equally [lack]
incentives to act aggressively abroad.”4 China’s “Going Out” economic expansion policy
can be regarded as a major strategic step in the process. Whether China’s global rise is as
a “powerful pacifist” or as a political revisionist state, the country’s grand strategy requires
an offensive military doctrine and strategy extending beyond its sovereign territorial to
ensure economic sustainability and growth. As a result, the People’s Liberation Army
(PLA) and PLA Navy (PLAN) will intensify operations beyond Chinese territory. This will
ensure energy, commercial extraction and vital sea lanes of communication (SLoC), particularly along the “Maritime Silk Road” in the Indian Ocean. China will then no longer
fear a potentially unpredictable reliance on other nations for SLoC security, especially the
United States, and will be less beholden to the political will of currently powerful international actors.
China’s accumulating military presence in Africa over the last decade and a half has
evolved from traditional foreign policy principles of “non-interference” and respect for
state territorial integrity towards increasingly flexible interpretations suiting its own hegemonic ambitions. China has indirectly shaped internal affairs on the African continent
through its massive economic impact over the last two decades. In 2015, Beijing began
conducting its political policy with a goal of deliberately influencing state and regional
politics to better protect Chinese economic interests and nationals abroad. Whether China’s ultimate global hegemonic aim is achieved primarily economically as a powerful pacifist, or politically as an aggressive revisionist state directly confronting the United States,
is insignificant when gauging future trends. Both strategies illustrate China fundamentally
challenging the status quo, either economically or politically, as a type of revisionist state.
Thus, an expanding and less subtle military presence in Africa will likely continue, if not
accelerate, in the future with Africa’s strategic importance.
Subsequent sections will explore China’s changing military presence in Africa for
the last two decades and its impact on African security issues. A brief timeline of China’s
involvement in major military and security events in Africa will outline the shift away
from Beijing’s traditional interpretation of its “non-interference” principle. Moreover, the
author will analyze China’s motivations for its increasing offensive presence and conclude
that, while energy security and economic reasons drove China’s initial increase of military
activity on the continent, the country’s country’s increased military presence has underlying political motivations. Some of these motivations include earning the the reputation as
a great and responsible power through humanitarian actions, emerging as a strong leader
3 
4 

Eric Gartzke, “The Capitalist Peace,” American Journal of Political Science 51, no. 1 (January 2007), 171.
Ibid.

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of the developing world and ultimately pursuing regional and global hegemony. The
paper provides recommendations for African leaders and Western powers of how best to
approach and benefit from a rising China, rather than allowing its strictly self-interested
pursuit of power to potentially lead to heightened tension and future conflict between
global powers such as China and the United States.

China’s Growing UN Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO) in Africa

Dr. Chris Alden summarizes China’s main foreign policy objective as the aim to
“empower the UN as the only legitimate decision making body when it comes to global
solutions to transnational problems or domestic state failure.”5 Beijing’s insistence on
international issues to be handled through the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) is
strategic, instigating its desire to be the international voice for Africa and the developing
world. Beijing employs its vetoes and influence on the UNSC as diplomatic packages for
African countries in return for acknowledgement by the developing world as a leader.6
China’s current support and involvement in Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) reflects
a 180-degree turnaround from only a few decades ago as the country ramps up a more
offensive and active foreign policy. China generally abstained from UNSC votes in the
1970s and 1980s on United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO), adhering to a
strict policy of non-interference, viewing such actions as “imperialist intervention.”7 This
changed in the late 1980s and early 1990s when China participated in its first UNPKO
in 1989, deploying 20 civilians to Namibia to support the independence transition from
South Africa.8 China transformed from a dissenting voice on UNPKO to a vocal member
on the UNSC. The country was a strong supporter of France’s resolution on Chad in 2007
and was a leader in repeatedly advocating for Somalia to be on the UNSC agenda. Though
it previously blocked resolutions, China eventually became instrumental in resolving
Sudan’s Darfur conflict.9
China grew to become the most active UNSC permanent member in terms of
participation. In 2000, China deployed fewer than 100 civilian peacekeepers, yet quickly
oversaw a 20-fold increase within ten years to achieve the status of the largest contributor of peacekeepers out of the UNSC and the seventh top financial donor in the UN for
peacekeeping.10 According to Saferworld, as of 2011 and under the UN banner, China was
5  Chris Alden, “Seeking Security in Africa: China’s Evolving Approach to the African Peace and Security Architecture,” Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, (March 2014), 5.
6  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role in African Peace and Security,” (January 2011), 13.
7  Jianwei Wang and Jing Zou, “China Goes to Africa: A Strategic move?” Journal of Contemporary China 23, no. 90, (May 8,
2014), 1115-1120.
8  Jianwei Wang and Jing Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1120.
9  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 62.
10  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1120.

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estimated to have “built or repaired more than 8,000 kilometers of roads and more than
200 bridges, dismantled 8,700 mines and explosives, transported 4.3 million tonnes of
goods and provided medical treatment for 60,000 patients.”11 Such projects remain crucial
to prompt legitimacy of PKO in the eyes of locals and political elites.
Beijing initially leveraged its veto position in the UNSC to pursue its central foreign
objective in Africa to isolate Taiwan diplomatically and gain support for the One-China
principle on the continent.12 In 2003, Liberia failed to recognize Taiwan and instead
turned to Beijing as its authority. This followed China deploying its largest peacekeeping
contingent to date in Africa under the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), demonstrating
the influence of China’s UNSC veto power.13 Beijing achieved this goal since only three
countries diplomatically recognize the Taiwanese “Republic of China.” Due to its overall
success, Beijing no longer considers One-China as its most important strategic global
foreign policy objective, evidenced by China’s recent troop deployment in Haiti despite
Haiti’s recognition of Taiwan.14
Following the strain of United States credibility and a weakening of soft power following the 2003 Iraq invasion invasion, China seized the opportunity to expand its “strategic
space,” and capitalize upon “new frontier” diplomacy during the Jiang Zemin era at the
beginning of the decade.15 This involved a more active role on the continent and in the
UN. In 2003, China stated that “traditional” UN operations were no longer suited for dire
situations like the DRC and Liberia, a marked shift from 1999 to a flexible and less conservative stance on the use of force.16 This transition to flexibility on force, however, has not
been a linear path for China, as denoted by its refusal to support the UN Mission in Sudan
expansion to protect civilians in 2006.17 Nevertheless, by July 2010, around 2,000 Chinese
peacekeepers served on nine out of 15 UNPKO around the world, with 1,622 deployed
in Africa.18 By August 2015, nearly 2,700 Chinese peacekeepers were deployed in Africa
on seven separate UNPKO in Mali, Sudan, Western Sahara, Darfur, the DRC, Ivory Coast
and Liberia.19 While China is the ninth largest contributor to UNPKO, the United States
and France have only 82 and 909 peacekeepers deployed around the entire globe.20
11  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 77.
12  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1116.
13  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 76.
14  Ibid.
15  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa” 1116.
16  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 73.
17  Ibid.
18  Ibid.
19  “UN Missions’ Summary Detailed by Country,” United Nations Peacekeeping Contributions, (August 31, 2015).
20  “Ranking of Military and Police Contributions to UN Operations,” United Nations Peacekeeping Contributions, (August
31, 2015).

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Although the United States, Japan and France are the largest financial contributors
to peacekeeping, it is important to note that China’s contribution of $300 million for
UNPKO in 2010 far outweighed its $80 million contribution to the UN regular budget.21
China has evolved from a policy of UNSC abstention to the strategic use of vetoes in
the UN to achieve near-universal recognition of the One-China policy and continued to
increase its financial and peacekeeping involvement in the UN.
UNMIL served China’s interests by improving its international image as a great and
responsible power and by serving as a leader in the developing world. UNMIL was entirely
dependent on China to transport personnel, fuel and water throughout Liberia.22 China’s
engineers rehabilitated and built 2000 kilometers of road networks and bridges and
constructed an international airport. China also participated in medical outreach tours to
provide basic health care.23 UN Envoy Ellen Margrethe Løj praised the Chinese contingent
of UNMIL.24 Liberia serves as a prime example for China to become directly involved in
tangible development projects in a professional manner and act as a global leader.
China’s transition from one of non-interference to a more proactive role in African security issues is evident in its role in both augmenting and resolving the conflict
in Darfur and current efforts to ease tensions between Sudan and South Sudan. In the
2000s, China armed and backed Khartoum and established three weapons factories in
the country which produced “tanks, fighter planes, bombers, helicopters machine guns,
rocket-propelled grenades,” intensifying the Sudanese civil war.25 The factories also served
Chinese economic interests in the arms market and allowed Chinese workers to protect
themselves.26 China was notably absent from the 2005 seminal comprehensive peace
agreement.27 In retaliation, US celebrities and NGOs launched a media campaign dubbing the 2008 Beijing Olympics as the “Genocide Olympics,” encouraging China to engage
in the negotiation process rather than continue fueling the conflict.28 China remained
adamant in respecting Sudanese sovereignty, but embarrassing international pressure persuaded President al-Bashir to accept a UNPKO.29 The UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) was established in 2007. Although China participates in UNAMID, 98 percent of
the African Union (AU) funding comes for the West, mainly the European Union.30
21  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 73.
22  Ibid., 75.
23  Ibid.
24  Ibid.
25  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1127.
26  Ibid.
27  Alden, “Seeking Security in Africa,” 5.
28  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1127.
29  Ibid., 1122.
30  Alden, “Seeking Security in Africa,” 3.

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China’s involvement in Sudan extended beyond Darfur, through independence and
tensions between South Sudan and Sudan. Chinese diplomats met with the United States
special envoy to Sudan five times nearly six months before the independence referendum
in January 2011, denoting its ability to work on multilateral efforts.31 China’s incremental
approach to intervention in Sudan increased to acting as a mediator between Khartoum
and Juba in 2013.32 Though initially hesitant to become involved, China became a proactive key actor in conflict prevention with aims of increasing regional stability and reducing
security crises.
By the end of 2012, China sent its tenth peacekeeping force to South Sudan.33 Chinese
peacekeepers are crucial in stabilizing the critical oil export region and therefore directly
and indirectly amplified the security of Chinese nationals, companies and energy supplies.
Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and other enterprises are heavily involved in
the oil extraction. 100,000 Sudanese are employed by joint ventures and these companies
donated $35 million to building infrastructure, hospitals and schools to benefit 1.5 million
local residents.34 Beijing’s active role in development is now beginning to be mimicked independently by Chinese entrepreneurs and companies of all levels in order to foster better
local relations. Due to increased crime in South Sudan and threats to Chinese companies
and citizens, China deployed its second police force by the end of 2012.35
Another notable step in China’s incremental flexibility and involvement in African
security issues is the 2015 deployment of China’s first peacekeeping infantry battalion to
Juba in May 2015. The PLA also sent a mechanized infantry brigade to Darfur.36 Furthermore, China has committed to “facilitating military and police personnel exchanges;
delivering trainings on peace and security; facilitating bilateral and multilateral talks on
conflict prevention, management, and resolution; and offering assistance on post-conflict
reconstruction and development” in Sudan.37 In the past decade, China almost violated
security conflict resolutions and seized the opportunity to actively engage in UNPKOs
through deployment of its own PLA troops, signaling a future willingness to use its military for post-conflict development and PKOs.
China left a footprint on the continent by launching a demining program in 2007.38
Even though the country did not sign the 1997 Ottawa treaty that banned mines, China
31  Zhang Chun, “China’s Relations with Two Sudans: From ‘One Country, Two Systems’ to ‘Two Countries, One System,’”
Saferworld (August 2013), 8.
32  Alden, “Seeking security in Africa,” 5.
33  Wang Hongxu, “China and South Sudan: A Strategic Partnership?” Saferworld (August 2013), 4.
34  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 84.
35  Hongxu, “China and South Sudan,” 4.
36  Alden, “Seeking Security in Africa,” 5.
37  Hongxu, “China and South Sudan,” 5.
38  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1121.

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has stepped up efforts in Africa to work bilaterally with governments to do so, fostering
coordination and cooperation in an offshoot military-related issue while simultaneously
increasing international prestige and local trust.39 Echoing great powers, China began
preaching rules globally, although the country does not abide by its own rules. China
launched a demining program specifically to train Sudanese personnel in 2010.40 Liberian
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf praised the Chinese contingent as a “strong, well-trained,
highly-disciplined and professional force and a friendly emissary.”41 Her praise for the
initiative was echoed by UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon.42
China signaled its continued strategy to involve the PLA through the UN by creating a formal office for peacekeeping in the Ministry of National Defense in 2001.43
According to a Saferworld 2011 report, the move formally established a defense mandate
to “oversee comprehensive management and coordination of the PLA’s participation in
UN operations.”44 A peacekeeping training center was established in November 2009 on
the mainland, and China now participates in international training courses and hosts
seminars on peacekeeping.45 China also trains Chinese civilians for UNPKO at its peacekeeping police training center.46 While Beijing insists on interventions operating within
international legal standards under the UN Banner, the country has opened the door for
the exploitation of UNPKO to serve Chinese grand strategy through its PLA forces participating as peacekeepers.
In 2013, China shifted from its offensive military doctrine by sending its first combat
troops under The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in
Mali (MINUSMA). Chinese officials publicly offered the future use of combat troops in
2008, a departure from its history of traditional non-interference.47 Beijing officially broke
its own rule in June 2013 with the announcement that the country would send “400 medical engineers and security troops to Mali” for China’s 24th UN mission since 1990.48 The
UN Special Representative praised the professionalism of the eventual 395 elite Chinese
troops mandated to protect the UN headquarters and ground forces in Mali.49 However,
while China was eager to participate in combat operations, it provided almost no financial
39  Ibid.
40  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1121.
41  Ibid., 1122.
42  Ibid.
43  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 74.
44  Ibid.
45  Ibid., 4-5.
46  Ibid., 74.
47  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 78.
48  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1121.
49  Alden, “Seeking Security in Africa,” 5.

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support. Japan and the United States pledged $120 million and $96 million, respectively,
of the $445 million total raised for MINUSMA while China pledged only $1 million.50
Former South African Ambassador and academic Thomas Wheeler noted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) “struggles to convince the government to quickly allocate
security issues finances,” because Chinese policy banks are established to typically “finance
huge infrastructure projects.”51 Beijing is working towards establishing precedent within
government bureaucracy during this shift toward a proactive foreign policy involving expanded military operations. Legalistic temporary roadblocks and internal politics should
not diminish the importance of recognizing Beijing’s transition to the next step in its
grand strategy of hegemony. Beijing is shifting from prioritizing its “Going Out” economic
policy to instituting increasing offensive military strategies and operations in Africa.52
China’s motivations for an increasing role in PKO were quantitatively analyzed up to
2010. In a 2013 publication, journalist Zhou Hang discussed China’s participation in UNPKO and noted China’s significant contributions of 30 more peacekeepers when bilateral
trade increased by $10 million.53, 54 He concluded, “in the pursuit of economic interest,
China may deviate from traditional interpretation of sovereignty.” The strongest independent variable of statistical significance in relation to increased PKO involvement is that
China sends around 114 more peacekeepers in a post-2005 period for PKO, reflecting a
substantial shift in Chinese security policy since Darfur.55 This trend has exacerbated since
2010. Economics alone are not the sole reason China stepped up security efforts and an
offensive military presence in Africa.

African Union Support and Other Multilateral Initiatives

Stepping outside the umbrella of UN authority, China increased multilateral security
initiatives with the AU. China publicly supported the idea of “Africans solving African
problems” and leverages itself as a leader for the continent through financial contributions. China contributed $400,000 in 2005 and 2006 to the AU and operations in Darfur
respectively.56 In 2007, China stepped up support to $1.8 million for the UNAMID.57
China donated an additional $300,000 for the AU mission in Somalia in 2008 as well as
50  Thomas Wheeler, “Peace Through Prevention: Practical steps for Deepening China-Africa Security Cooperation.” African
East-Asian Affairs, no. 3 (September 2013), 68.
51  Ibid.
52  Jing Gu, “China’s Private Enterprises in Africa and the Implications for African Development,” European Journal of Development Research 21, no. 4, (2009), 571.
53  Zhou Hang, “Dragon under the Blue Helmet: a quantitative analysis of China’s motivation for participation in UN peacekeeping operations.” African East-Asian Affairs, no. 3 (September 2013), 48.
54  Ibid., 39.
55  Ibid., 46.
56  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1122.
57  Alden, “Seeking Security in Africa,” 6.

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$4.5 million worth of equipment and materials to the AU to combat al-Shabaab.58 Additionally, 30 percent of Chinese nationals on the African continent are affected by early
warning signals from the AU, and Beijing sought greater involvement in the Early-Warning System and in 2012 announced 600 million Chinese yuan of “free assistance” to the
AU over the following three years.59 This financial support for offensive military operations conducted under AU banners on the continent constitutes a grey area in relation
to China’s non-interference policy. Nonetheless, Beijing is gaining trust and support of
African governments and the AU, solidifying itself as a leader in the region.
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) set ambitious goals without
detailed plans to achieve them; however, China’s rhetoric at FOCAC meetings should not
be overlooked. At the fifth FOCAC, the “Beijing Action Plan” included an agenda for “political affairs and regional peace and security” amongst standard economic and cultural
items.60 The July 2012 meeting produced the catchphrase “new-thinking” on a China-Africa security partnership and linked the AU into the FOCAC process.61 According to the
Brookings Institute, “China has consistently doubled its financing commitment to Africa
during the past three FOCAC meetings” to $20 billion in 2012.62 Due to China’s increasing
participation in African security issues, further pledges of resources and assistance earmarked for security issues may be pledged to mitigate conflict resolution and stabilization
at the 2015 FOCAC meeting in 2015.
China’s transition from bilateral diplomacy to incorporating multilateral negotiations
and initiatives in Africa is not only evident since FOCAC’s creation in 2000. China also
appointed representatives as early as 2005 to the AU and the regional economic communities of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the Economic Community
of West African States and the Southern African Development Community.63 November 2008 in Addis Ababa marked the first annual AU-China “strategic dialogue,” which
included security discussions.64 Although the country has a history of working in isolation
rather than in alliances, Beijing’s recent trend to partake in multilateral groups provide optimal opportunity for the country to engage in African security issues.

58  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1122 and Alden, “Seeking Security in Africa,” 6.
59  Alden, “Seeking Security in Africa,” 6.
60  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1117.
61  Alden, “Seeking Security in Africa,” 6.
62  Yun Sun, “The Sixth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation: New Agenda and New Approach?” The Brookings Institution:
Africa Growth Initiative—Foresight Africa: Top Priorities for the Continent in 2015, (January 2015), 10.
63  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1119.
64  Ibid.

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Consular Upgrades and Security Concerns

Chinese nationals and companies in Africa are increasingly at security risk. As of
2012, 288 of 932 security warnings issues by the MFA concerned Africa, the second highest by region.65 A 2012 study by Xia Liping notes 81 percent of Chinese enterprises face
political risks and 56 percent are threatened by poor public security and social order.66
MFA sent out 33 terrorist attack alerts in 2012, and Chinese nationals were directly targeted via kidnappings and killings in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Niger and South Sudan.67 During a
coup in Mali, Chinese embassy guards exchanged fire with two military vehicles.68
In May 2006, the MFA established a division of consular protection and upgraded
in August 2007 to the Center for Consular Assistance and Protection.69 From 1985 to
2011, China doubled its number of defense attachés from 59 to 109, although they only
increased the number from 9 to 15 in Africa.70 Saferworld notes that despite the apparent evidence of military ties not keeping pace with economic growth, a “recent flurry
of military exchanges with Africa in 2010 might suggest a widening” of engagement.71
Following China’s evacuation from Libya in 2011, the MFA launched a website and mobile
agreement to provide early warnings to nationals and mechanized a “four-in-one overseas
security protection” integrating the central and local governments as well as Chinese embassies.72 Due to the increasing threat to Chinese nationals, increases in defense attachés
and a stronger security presence by China will continue in Africa.

People’s Liberation Army Navy Anti-Piracy Operations and Evacuation of Libya
Before 2009, 20 percent of the three-to-four Chinese commercial ships passing
around the Horn of Africa were attacked daily.73 China responded in December 2008 with
the historic announcement of deploying PLAN vessels outside of its own territory to join
multilateral anti-piracy operations.74 This marked a major shift in China’s military doctrine from a defensive near-seas activity to far-seas offensive military operations, improving PLA maritime capabilities without being criticized internationally as an expansionist
65  Xia Liping, “An Analysis of China’s Consular Protection Practice in Africa,” African East-Asian Affairs: The China Monitor,
no. 3 (September 2013), 84.
66  Ibid., 86.
67  Liping, “An Analysis of China’s Consular Protection Practice,” 90.
68  Ibid., 88.
69  Shaio H. Zerba, “China’s Libya Evacuation Operation: A New Diplomatic Imperative—Overseas Citizen Protection,” Journal of Contemporary China 23, no. 90 (April 30, 2014), 1102.
70  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 38.
71  Ibid., 39.
72  Zerba, “China’s Libya Evacuation Operation,” 1104.
73  Jean-Paul Gagnon, “China’s Naval Policy Off the Coast of Somalia: International Participation, the Preservation of Strategic
Interests, or Security?” Journal of Global Analysis 2, no. 2, (July 2011), 41.
74  Marc Lanteigne, “Fire Over Water: China’s Strategic Engagement of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden Crisis,” The Pacific
Review 26, no. 3, (March 8, 2013), 291.

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state.75 By February 2013, PLAN escorted 5,046 vessels and rescued 50 ships.76 By August
2013, China dispatched 15 teams to execute escort missions.77 China’s military involvement in anti-piracy allowed over 25 PLAN vessels, 8,000 military personnel and 7,000
specialists to test operational abilities while also enacting its emerging mandate to defend
vital sea lines of communication.78 Task force operations marked the first time various
PLAN fleets worked together in an international setting.79 Rear Admiral Du Jingchen of
the first naval escort argued that the mission “allowed the navy to test its capabilities, identify problems with training, equipment and operations and further develop its modernization program.”80 China’s participation boosted its international prestige and allowed PLA
to engage in military operations other than war, as mandated by a 2006 Chinese defense
white paper.81 In May 2011, General Chen Bindge of the PLA’s General Staff “publically
advocated joint attacks on Somali pirate bases,” a move far away from China’s previous
refusal to consider land-based operations under the anti-piracy mandate.82
Over a 12-day period in February and March 2011, China evacuated 35,860 nationals
in Libya.83 The Xuzhou, a Jiangkai-II class guided-missile frigate participating in antipiracy operations was diverted through the Suez Canal to assist in evacuations.84 Under
the direction of Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang, land, air and sea route evacuations were
conducted and the government was able to “evacuate over twice the number of people in
the same timeframe,” while using limited military resources.85 However, the four PLA Air
Force cargo planes transferring evacuees to Khartoum only evacuated 1,700 nationals.86
Nonetheless, the Libyan evacuation marked the first time the PLA worked with civilian
authorities for such a large-scale operation which symbolically demonstrated the PLA’s
commitment to protecting Chinese nationals.87 An additional 1,800 nationals were rescued from Egypt in 2011.88 Despite its success, Libya served as a wake-up call for Beijing
to formulate holistic security strategies rather than operate on ad hoc basis, recognizing
75  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1123.
76  Lanteigne, “Fire Over Water,” 291.
77  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1123.
78  Lanteigne, “Fire Over Water,” 295.
79  Ibid., 299.
80  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role in African Peace and Security,” 66.
81  Lanteigne, “Fire Over Water,” 298 and Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role in African Peace and Security,” 66.
82  Alexander Bobroske, “China’s Growing Role in the Horn of Africa a Pivot to Offensive Military Doctrine and Strategy:
Future Implications for a Proactive Regional Security Strategy in Africa,” (September 16, 2015), 8.
83  Zerba, “China’s Libya Evacuation Operation,” 94, 1093.
84  Ibid., 1101.
85  Ibid., 1002.
86  Ibid., 1006, 1110.
87  Ibid., 1006-1007.
88  Ibid., 1093.

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insufficient sealift and airlift capacity of PLA without a permanent military base in the
region.

China-African Bilateral Treaties, Financial Support and Military Cooperation

China is notably operating outside of international institutions such as the UN, AU
and FOCAC on African security matters through bilateral and secret treaties with African
nations. China regularly entertains “mutual visits of high-level military officers, military
training programs, financial aid and joint-military exercises” and provides a modest quantity of military assistance to nearly every African state.89 2000 marked a pivotal year to a
more active PLA when Chinese military leaders toured Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt and South
Sudan, supporting its security and grand strategy agenda with the full “depth unknown
due to a lack of transparency.”90 In efforts to boost its international reputation and test
operational capabilities simultaneously, China participated in the 2009 Gabon “Operation Peace Angel.”91 Although Beijing’s rhetoric emphasizes the UN as the legitimate body
concerning security affairs, the country’s actions demonstrate a cognitive dissonance on
the subject.
Beijing regularly keeps the defense and security debate outside of its civil society, as
these bilateral military-related deals are secretive in nature.92 According to Saferworld,
China is not implementing Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, instead,
the country trains the military and is “unwilling to cooperate with other actors and share
information with the United Nations.”93 China’s surge of participation in UNPKO is only
to the extent that it benefits Chinese national policy and grand strategy.
China seeks to extend its influence over critical African maritime sea routes. In 2000,
the first PLAN cruise to Africa docked in Tanzania and South Africa.94 While anti-piracy
operations marked a historic step in increasing an offensive military presence for PLAN,
the multilateral initiative is far from the sole visible presence PLAN made in Africa. In
2003, a Sino-South African Defense Committee was established to formalize a security
relationship, and 2008 marked the first time a South African naval ship docked in China.95
China invited Egypt and South Africa to observe its military exercises within China and
in 2008 “conducted joint maritime exercises with South Africa.”96 China’s naval presence
in Africa is likely to expand as Beijing protects Chinese commerce and engages in bilateral
89  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1117.
90  Ibid., 1118.
91  Ibid.
92  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 42-43.
93  Ibid., 78.
94  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1118.
95  Ibid., 38, 40.
96  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 40.

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military exercises with nations at critical juncture points in maritime routes.
China has also assisted other African states’ armies. In 2001, China supplied $1 million to Nigeria for equipment upgrades, $600,000 to Liberia in 2005 for military capacity
building, a $30 million loan to Ghana in 2007 for equipment and communication system
upgrades for national security agencies and $1.5 million to Mauritania in 2010 for military
engineering equipment.97 China additionally donated $5.5 million for a Liberian army
barracks, $6 million to Angola to establish an elite tactical unit training center and trained
personnel at a PLA university.98 These donations are clearly not development commitments in a commercial nature; rather, Beijing is applying soft power to strengthen military
ties to African states.
As Saferworld notes, the “depth of military cooperation is not limited to countries
from which China imports natural resources.”99 Beijing donated an additional five million
Chinese yuan to Uganda and Burundi, the two largest troops providers for the African
Union Mission in Somalia.100 However, countries with deep military ties to China like
Uganda and Ghana do not have significant exports to China.101 While there are commercial benefits to military cooperation like arm sales and contracts, China’s greater motivation for these cases is to strengthen African diplomatic and security relations.102

Motivations Behind China’s Increased Military Activity in Africa

The 2011 Saferworld article concluded that China’s military ties to Africa are insignificant compared to its economic and political engagement.103 Four years after that report,
China deployed combat troops under the UN banner in Mali and South Sudan. China
continued to step up financial support, military training and bilateral secret treaties with
African nations and sought its first overseas naval base in Djibouti. Jianwei Wang and
Jing Zou noted that China’s repercussions of its massive economic “Going Out” policy
“triggered strategic competition on the continent…not by design, but by default.”104 This
analysis discounts China’s trend towards a visible increase in offensive military doctrine.
China’s actions betray its rhetoric. China’s motivations for increasing a strategic presence
in Africa are not solely economical but are also multipronged to include energy security
and economic growth in addition to protecting both Chinese nationals and companies
abroad, a desire to improve its international reputation and strengthen its military ties.
97  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa” 1118.
98  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 39-40.
99  Ibid., 41.
100 Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1122.
101  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 41.
102  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 41.
103  Ibid., 43.
104  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1132.

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Together, these motivations serve China’s ultimate aim of a revisionist state seeking hegemony. Africa remains an option for energy resource extraction and comprises crucial
maritime routes, requiring proactive involvement in security issues to feed China’s growing economy:
China’s demand for oil will quadruple by 2030 while currently 33 percent of all Chinese
crude oil is imported from Africa. Africa serves China’s interests in diversifying its
growing energy imports to not be overly-dependent on the Middle East. In 1992, China
started importing 500,000 tons of oil a year from Africa, in 2010 that rose to 708.5 million tons. In 2009, African oil extractions account for China’s ‘big three’ oil companies
CNOOC, CNPC and Sinopec at 45 percent, 40 percent and 22.6 percent respectively.105
Although one-third of the world’s civil wars take place in oil-producing countries,
China invests in oil and energy extraction in conflict-ridden states.106 The Movement
for Emancipation of the Niger Delta detonated a bomb after President Hu’s 2006 visit to
Nigeria protesting China’s extraction in the country.107 In the 1990s, China viewed local
militias protecting its oil production as the responsibility of the Sudanese government,
rather than Chinese companies.108 These companies shifted to privately hire security firms
while host governments provided some military protection and checkpoints. This blocked
oil production centers from engagement with the local community and further fermented
distrust.109 In 2005, Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement increased its security for oil
companies, intensifying local grievances and leading to shutdowns of oil companies that
further added fuel to local resentment.110 As Alden notes, while SOEs in strategic areas
and enterprises were drawn into local disputes with little economic consequence, their
actions led to wider political ramifications.111 Beijing was eventually forced to address its
companies’ private security policies and lay out a sustainable plan that satisfied local communities and provided security to its own citizens and companies.
Beijing lacked a normalized strategic security plan for its companies. Chinese scholars suggested that “China’s state-owned energy companies have in fact hijacked China’s
foreign policy towards Sudan.”112 While Beijing may not have anticipated political reper105  Bobroske, “China’s Growing Role in the Horn of Africa,” 4.
106  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 86.
107  Ibid., 86.
108  Ross Anthony, “Obstacles to Chinese Oil Company Engagement with Local Communities in South Sudan,” Saferworld
(August 2013), 14.
109  Ibid.
110  Leben Nelson Moro, “Chinese Oil Companies and Local Communities in Unity State, South Sudan,” Saferworld (August
2013), 25.
111  Alden, “Seeking security in Africa,” 2.
112  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 87.

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cussions for its “Going Out” policy, the resulting boom in SOEs and medium and small
Chinese entrepreneurs exceeded the capacity of the Chinese government to effectively
manage and coordinate economic activity on the continent. Beijing was late to the game
for developing a holistic regional strategy integrating energy and economic interests with
political and security affairs. However, the government awakened to the threats facing
commercial energy extraction and stepped up a military presence to secure extraction and
an energy route to China. This trend is likely to strengthen in the future as Chinese officials continue to formulate broader and coherent African strategies rather than operating
on an ad hoc basis. While some Chinese companies desire a greater participation of China
in UNPKOs, others would rather see embassies and China taking the lead in implementing security.113
One coherent regional plan emerging from Beijing was the “two oceans” strategy: the
objective of instituting a naval presence in both the Pacific and Indian Oceans, potentially
with the ultimate aim of blockading the United States Navy out of these maritime routes
leading to China and East Asia via the buildup of artificial islands and military bases. The
strategy is designed to “secure commercial, especially energy, lines of supply with the Middle East and Africa” in the Indian Ocean. According to former Director of the US Africa
Command David Brown,
As Washington increases its energy security, Beijing’s own energy insecurity will be felt
more acutely, furthering its acceleration of the two ocean strategy so China will not rely
on a maritime route secured by the United States and India. China was building up a
strategic presence in the region via bilateral cooperation agreements and PLAN use of
port facilities in the Gulf of Aden before anti-piracy activity, revealing China’s aim for
an increased military presence.114
China has a clear incentive to step up a proactive security strategy in areas afflicted
by instability because, as Saferworld notes, “African markets will never meet their full potential for Chinese goods and investments without security.”115 Alden further states China
faces three threats: “reputational risks derived from association with certain governments,
risks to business by mercurial leaders and weak regulatory regimes and risks to citizens
in unstable African environments.”116 Beijing recognized that economics and politics
were two sides of the same coin and formulated new strategies encapsulating both, which
included stepping up military presence under a coherent regional political strategy to effectively assist China’s goals.
113  Tim Steinecke, “Chinese Engagement in South Sudan and the Management of Insecurity and Conflict,” Saferworld (August 2013), 22.
114  Bobroske, “China’s Growing Role in the Horn of Africa,” 7-8.
115  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 24.
116  Alden, “Seeking Security in Africa,” 1.

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With an estimated 500,000 to one million Chinese nationals living in Africa, Beijing
faces domestic pressure to adequately protect its people living on the continent.117 Chinese
nationals were kidnapped and subject to violent attacks, companies were armed and businesses were terminated because of conflict and instability.118 Over one hundred Chinese
nationals or employees working for oil companies were kidnapped and/or murdered by
rebel militias or armed criminal groups between 2009 to 2014, in places like Sudan, South
Sudan, Ethiopia and Nigeria.119 Chinese nationals used social media sites like Weibo to
seek assistance and spread information back to the mainland about security issues and
safety of Chinese nationals.120
Shaio Zerba laid out three possible scenarios Beijing could adopt to ensure security
of nationals and companies.121 First, China could depend on host country governments
to provide security. Second, Beijing could encourage companies themselves to provide
private security. Third, Beijing could utilize its own security apparatus such as PLA. While
China relies on option one, Africa is plagued with weak governments that cannot provide
their own citizens’ basic safety. Option two is inadequate as a long-term solution because
Chinese companies do not have legal authority in host nations. Zerba argues the third
option is “gaining traction” as “a proactive and less reactive approach to international
security further obliging Beijing to reconsider its global strategy.”122 China is likely to
continue taking security measures under its direct control to guarantee the protection of
resource extraction, commercial investments and the safety of hundreds of thousands of
nationals living abroad. The “Going Out” policy evolved to become too massive, complex
and expensive for host countries to adequately provide security.
China’s growth in UNPKO and military involvement in Africa serves its aim to ferment an international image as a great and responsible global power. This reputation is
often gained through successful humanitarian missions. Saferworld has declared a “public
relations success in how PLA is viewed overseas,” as a result of China’s participation in
UNPKO and anti-piracy operations.123 Furthermore, China used its security apparatus operating in Africa to support African governments and conflict resolution. China exploited
its economic development and aid packages to leverage support in the UN and avoid
117  Zerba, “China’s Libya Evacuation Operation,” 1096.
118  Jiang Heng and Zhang Hui, “Managing Security Challenges for Chinese Companies in South Sudan,” Saferworld (August
2013), 16.
119  Ibid., 16; Jiang Hengkun, “Challenges and Opportunities for Chinese Enterprises in South Sudan,” Saferworld (August
2013), 40; Wheeler, “Peace Through Prevention,” 64; Zerba, “China’s Libya Evacuation Operation,” 1096; Saferworld, “China’s
Growing Role,” 24.
120  Zerba, “China’s Libya Evacuation Operation,” 1098.
121  Ibid., 1110.
122  Ibid.
123  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 76.

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censures on Human Rights violations.124 Out of 11 Western proposals against China on
Human Rights violations as of 2011, all were defeated with the support of African states.125
China’s increasing military involvement in Africa serves as a distinct example of Beijing’s departure from a traditional interpretation of its non-interference policy.
Chinese scholars are shifting to support “creative involvement,” calling on Beijing to
play a larger role voluntarily in international affairs, rather than be forced to act out of
dire necessity. Scholars point to China’s role in Sudan in 2007, the 6-party talks on the
Korean Peninsula, anti-piracy off of Somalia and the evacuation of Libya in 2011 as
evidence of China’s proactive growing role in international affairs, deviating from noninterference traditional interpretation.126
China’s era of keeping a low international profile and following the non-interference
principle came to an end. The country transitioned to an increasingly proactive security
strategy, particularly in Africa. Libya was incompatible with Beijing’s foreign policy principle of non-interference in relation to fulfilling an internal mandate to protect Chinese
nationals abroad.127 China benefits from a holistic strategy integrating economics and
politics that allows “flexibility and maneuverability by new allies and markets.”128 As Alden
points out, even the UN expansion of peacebuilding operations in Africa “undermines the
UN charter” in relation to sovereignty.129 Despite rhetoric defending non-interference and
respect for state sovereignty, China continues to increase its involvement in political and
security affairs of African states because of the less complex and more self-benefiting option to protect economic interests while instituting a grand strategy of hegemony. It is not
inconceivable that soon PLA battalions will eventually set foot on the continent without
UN banners, thus directly serving Chinese interests in an undisputable context, beginning
with a military base in Djibouti.

Future Implications for Africa, China and Other Great Powers
In 2014, Wang and Zou noted that China must simultaneously manage relations with
African elites and public and international actors, avoiding the perception of a Soviet-type
threat to the West while also avoiding the “colonial perception by the local population.”130
They concluded by stating, “Beijing [does not] seem to be fully prepared.”131 While their
conclusion is a suitable analysis of past actions, Beijing is moving the pieces to develop
124  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1116.
125  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 9.
126  Bobroske, “China’s Growing Role in the Horn of Africa,” 9.
127  Zerba, “China’s Libya Evacuation Operation,” 1112.
128  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1124.
129  Alden, “Seeking security in Africa,” 6.
130  Wang and Zou, “China Goes to Africa,” 1131.
131  Ibid.

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holistic strategies on security issues in Africa. It is only a matter of time before Beijing
effectively carries out political and military policies protecting economic interests on
the continent under a regional strategy framework divergent from the traditional interpretation of “non-interference” without upsetting African states. African states’ hostility
towards the West, and the fact that they accept China’s aid and security without scrutiny,
provides China with a huge advantage.
African leaders must grasp the fact that Beijing is pursuing equally power-driven geopolitical ambitions and will pursue them even more aggressively if China’s perception as a
revisionist state becomes apparent enough to the United States to cause direct confrontation. African leaders must approach economic and security bilateral treaties with China
cautiously rather than simply seeking an opportunity to spite the West. In an anarchic international system, no state can act in isolation. African states should expect retaliation or
proportional response from the West and other great powers if those actors view African
security deals with China as a threat to their respective powers.
The AU and multilateral groups such as FOCAC should formulate coherent and unified strategies in dealing with China to prioritize what Africans need in the security realm.
Wheeler predicted that under China’s new leadership of Xi Jinping, the country “will
strongly push back against further dilution of international norms of state sovereignty,
even going as far as to take the lead and build coalitions of developing country solidarity
on this issue.”132 What Wheeler fails to identify is that such actions by China against the
West will continually erode state sovereignty in Africa over time, even if China uses multilateral platforms such as FOCAC. Indeed, China’s economic magnitude on the continent
already shapes regional and local politics, while the increasing demands for protection
of Chinese nationals, economic investments and maritime routes will only continue to
pressure Beijing to involve itself more frequently and officially in African security matters.
Saferworld recommends Chinese policymakers to “recognize China’s impact on conflict,
shortcomings of engagement in Africa, and translate rhetoric into clear and tangible
policies in reality.”133 However, while Chinese officials are likely to continue developing
more strategic policies for Africa over the next decade, their motivations will be driven
by China’s needs and goals. African needs may be met and prioritized in the short-term
by China, but only if they serve China’s long-term strategy of rising as a trusted leader by
the developing world, which would open the door for an aggressive political revisionist
confrontation against the West.
China can be brought into multilateral initiatives and participate effectively as long
as it views itself as an equal stakeholder in operations. However, China declined an additional multilateral naval operation because of United States dominance. According
132  Wheeler, “Peace Through Prevention,” 68.
133  Saferworld, “China’s Growing Role,” 93.

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to Saferworld, Beijing was regularly “skeptical of United States and EU efforts to court
Chinese cooperation in Africa.”134 China declined to join the America-led naval coalition
combined task force (CTF-150) operating in the Gulf of Aden. China engaged in multilateral anti-piracy efforts because it directly served national energy and economic interests; it
is unlikely China will again commit to multilateral military operations without significant
national interests at stake.135
Further multilateral initiatives however, can defuse mistrust and misperceptions
between great powers including the United States and EU, easing the possibility of future
conflict. Mearsheimer states in “The False Promise of International Institutions,” that
“concerts,” where great powers do not “have incentive to challenge each other militarily…
essentially reflect balance of power and are consistent with realism.”136 The United States
and other great powers could belittle China as a political revisionist state and direct it
toward a rise solely as a powerful pacifist in an international “concert” if the respective
states work together on multilateral security operations that are self-beneficial and also
serve the international community. However, these efforts cannot be relative security gains
for the United States but rather establish China as an equal partner and stakeholder. While
the complex politics involved are unlikely to heed easy success, the effort may be worth
the possibility of diffusing mistrust between great powers which would otherwise fuel
misperceptions, tensions and competition.

Conclusion

China’s ultimate grand strategy may be one of either a rise as a powerful capitalistic
pacifist or it may be an eventual political revisionist state directly challenging the status
quo of the current distribution of international power, largely dominated by the United
States. No matter which course China pursues, its military presence in Africa will continue to build in the coming decades, deviating from its traditional interpretation of
non-interference. China has already significantly increased its involvement in UNPKO,
a dramatic turnaround from its abstention from UNSC votes only a few decades ago.
China’s success in largely achieving its One-China policy through its leverage at the UN is
now being replicated for its next goal of achieving the recognized status as a strong leader
of the developing world. While China is engaging with multilateral groups and the AU in
addressing security measures, providing financial backing and military training, it has also
been pursuing bilateral military deals, exchanges and joint exercises throughout Africa as
it strengthens its foothold on the continent.
134 
135 
136 
34.

Ibid., 69.
Bobroske, “China’s Growing Role in the Horn of Africa,” 8.
John Mearsheimer, “The False Promise of International Institutions,” International Security, 19, no. 3 (Winter 1994/1995),

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China’s motivations for increasing an offensive military presence and developing a
holistic regional strategy is multifaceted. China seeks to protect energy extraction efforts
in Africa and establish a secure maritime route through the Indian Ocean, exhibited by
anti-piracy operations conducted around the Horn of Africa. Chinese SOEs and private
companies need guaranteed security in order to fuel China’s economy and continue the
“Going Out” policy. There is also a growing need driven by domestic pressure for Beijing
to protect civilians abroad, demonstrated by the 2011 Libyan evacuation. While these
motivations characterize China as a rising “powerful pacifist” simply seeking to adequately
defend its economic interests with minimal political entanglements as possible, China’s
expanding military activity in Africa does not universally point to capitalism as the sole
reason for its militarization in Africa. China’s grand strategy is to be the world’s hegemon;
how the country moves toward that goal step by step, primarily economically or politically, will change and adapt over time.

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Appendix: List of Abbreviations
AU: African Union
FOCAC: Forum on China-Africa Cooperation
MFA: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
MINUSMA: United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization in Mali
PKO: Peacekeeping Operations
PLA: People’s Liberation Army
PLAN: People’s Liberation Army Navy
SLoC: Sea Lanes of Communication
SOE: State-Owned Enterprise
UNAMID: United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur
UNMIL: United Nations Mission in Liberia
UNPKO: United Nations Peacekeeping Operations
UNSC: United Nations Security Council

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