Can China be less “sinocentric”? Will the Middle Kingdom be able not to be at the center of its own interest? History suggests a negative answer. A strong, cohesive country, full of nationalism and proud of its history, always relies on itself to achieve the results it wants. You get what you conquer, might have been China’s motto. But, the globalization may have changed China’s definition of its interests. An historically inward-looking country is now exposed to the international arena. Moreover, it is the starring actor, an indispensable figure to solve the international crisis. Given its dimension and status, all Governments ask China for a bigger involvement in the world scenario. Is this request genuine or instrumental? In the latter case, does it not follow the same accusation of selfishness often used against China? Beijing does not forget when, just a few years ago, China was not invited to the G8 summit, a blatant contradiction of its importance in the world. Now China’s role is reconsidered a worthless G8 has been transformed into a more representative G20. To provide a more complete picture, we should not forget that the exclusion of China from the G8 was sometimes welcomed by the most conservative circles of Beijing. In that case, the western arrogance reinforced the self-reclusion of China.
The nation shows signs of interest and asks for more time, exactly when the developed world has no time to spare to exit the crisis. On one hand, it is undeniable that China is less integrated than it should in the world contest; on the other, it was never this committed as it is now. Surely, it is awkward to hold the biggest foreign reserves in the world and use that as a personal bank. Still, these reserves are the results of sacrifices (saving instead of consumption), so the right to use these reserves is correctly considered a Chinese prerogative. Nobody can contradict China’s position that the western world has been living beyond its means. Finally, China’s supposed predator role in Africa portrayed by western media is also resented within China. However, China recalls and reminds all the disastrous legacies of European colonialism and reaffirms its bilateral and reciprocal relationship with the African countries. So, China is exposed to a double criticism. It is accused of little cooperation in one part of the world and at the same time its intervention in another part of the world is deemed as bossy interference in internal affairs. Very likely, if China were not excluded by the western governments, probably it would not be forced to find friendships in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In conclusion, to marginalize China is unjust, anachronistic and impossible. The inconsequentiality of the previous G8 summits is obvious, even if China too enjoyed the exclusion.
In the context of the current devastating euro crisis, this separation is no longer possible. China must follow its path of internal reforms and active international cooperation. The flow of time will not be necessarily in its favor. Important decisions are to be taken, but the confusion in Europe does not encourage its initiative. It should be sufficient to condition its help to some measures that Europe should accept. This would represent the first step toward a reasonable, mutual cooperation. For the first time in contemporary history, Beijing realizes that its interests might coincide with foreign ones. To save other countries might be useful to improve its economy, even if this help is not always deserved by Europe.