Mnatsakan A. Safaryan
Key words – China’s foreign policy, South Caucasus, Armenian Genocide, Armenian-Chinese relations, Chinese-Turkish relations, crimes against humanity.
The last decades have seen the growth of China’s international stature and influence. As studies of China’s foreign policy are thriving worldwide, many issues of China’s policy in the South Caucasus remain largely unresearched. In this connection it is cognitive to detect China’s approaches to the issue of the Armenian Genocide, in particular, in the view of the ongoing dynamic change in China’s attitude towards such crimes against humanity as the Holocaust and the Nanjing Massacre.
The July 2009 events in Urumqi sparked a reaction of Turkey’s government: Prime Minister Erdogan said that the events in Urumqi were like genocide. At the request of China’s authorities Turkey’s foreign ministry issued an explanatory statement, which was followed by intensive diplomacy between the two countries to ease the strained Chinese-Turkish relations. Prior to these events the issue of the Armenian Genocide has not been a matter of special academic research in China. To be precise, it received marginal coverage in China’s central media sources, in those cases when the issue was brought forward by the world’s prime media outlets. The issue of the Armenian Genocide in China’s academic research first appears in 2010-2011 period. Moreover, China’s stance on the Armenian Genocide acquired new quality. In February 2011 China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi visited the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex in Yerevan and paid tribute to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. In reply to Anadolu Agency’s question China’s Foreign Ministry made a statement, saying that China is aware of the complexities of the historical problems between Turkey and Armenia and wants it to be solved through dialogue.
China’s evolving major power diplomacy has broadened its foreign policy outlook, which has brought the issue of the Armenian Genocide to the attention of China’s academic and social circles. The China’s diplomatic strategy is taking into account the nuances of regional situation in the South Caucasus and the neighboring areas. Despite the fact that the issue of the Armenian Genocide has gained its place in the toolbox of the Chinese diplomacy and is reflected in academic studies, the issue of the official recognition by China’s government is not on the agenda due to many factors. Firstly, China still pursues the notion of noninterference to some extent, at least for the time being. Secondly, the relations between Turkey and China are considered to be of high mutual importance, as both countries make use of the developing multipolar world. Nonetheless, Turkey’s nationalist policies, as well as the growing institutionalization of universal values in China may set the conditions for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by China.