Peacebuilding with ‘Chinese Characteristics’? Insights from China's engagement in Myanmar's peace process



Adhikari M (2021) Peacebuilding with ‘Chinese Characteristics’? Insights from China's engagement in Myanmar's peace process. International Studies Review, 23 (4), pp. 1699-1726.

The unpreceded rise of China, amid the decline of the Western-led liberal world order, has brought questions about how China will engage with the various manifestations of that world order, including human rights, trade, and global peace and security regimes. Through the empirical example of Chinese engagement in Myanmar, this article offers an inductive analysis of China's engagement in the field of “peacebuilding”: a prominent manifestation of the liberal world order in post-conflict states. In doing so, the article first argues that China speaks a distinct vernacular of peace, which is characterized by five core features: a focus on stability, prioritisation of development, conditional adherence to state-centricity, prioritization of regional actors in the making of peace, and an aversion to templates and policies for engaging in peace processes. Secondly, the article also highlights that in deploying these features, Chinese engagement in conflict management in Myanmar not only generates tensions between the various features, but is also seen to overlook local needs, bolster elite control of the state, discount the political context of peace processes, and indeed fluctuate in accordance with Chinese strategic and economic interests: all issues that resonate with the dominant critique of liberal peacebuilding projects. In proffering these arguments, the article cautions that as the Chinese approach to peacebuilding matures and strengthens, the ironing out of these contradictions is likely to be challenging.

Myanmar; China; peacebuilding

International Studies Review: Volume 23, Issue 4

Publication date31/12/2021
Publication date online20/08/2021
Date accepted by journal20/08/2021

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Dr Monalisa Adhikari

Dr Monalisa Adhikari

Lecturer in International Politics, Politics