For decades, the principle of non-interference has been an unchanging pillar of China’s foreign policy–in rhetorical terms if not always in behaviour. The non-interference principle has served to protect China from outside interference as well as protecting Beijing’s allies from the pressure at the United Nations and other international institutions. However, as China assumes a greater role in global affairs, and promises to be a responsible power, so its foreign policy will need to undergo necessary adjustments. As a result, the principle of non-interference, although unlikely to be abandoned, may come under pressure. As China’s global engagement expands, policymakers in Zhongnanhai have to consider how to protect Chinese interests in distant parts of the world. It has already demonstrated a growing willingness to intervene to protect its citizens and interests in the Horn of Africa and Libya. Furthermore, Beijing continues to exert heavy pressure to marginalize Taiwanese, Uighur and Tibetan activists. As China’s economic influence has increased so has its willingness to ‘interfere’ in the line-ups for film festivals, university’s public talks etc. In a more positive way, China has committed increasing numbers to UN peacekeeping missions. In many ways then, the principle of non-interference is increasingly a misnomer, a rhetorical device to warn others from interfering in China’s own affairs and assuaging fears about China’s rise.

The distinguished line-up for this special issue on the present and future contours of non-interference includes:

Neil Munro (University of Glasgow): Who lost Ukraine? (Published on March 17).

Edward Friedman (University of Wisconsin): China’s non-interference policy: PRC leaders and the realist perspective (Published on March 31).

Chih-yu Shih (National Taiwan University)

Mordechai Chaziza and Ogen S. Goldman (Ashkelon Academic College)

Shogo Suzuki (University of Manchester): China and Intervention: Is Beijing really a ‘monster’ that protects tyrants? (Published on April 1).

Miwa Hirono (University of Nottingham)