I'm constantly amazed at how bad China is at playing international power politics, when it is the economically-weakened West that is - or logically should be - on the back foot. Russia is as bad, though less surprising. The current BBC2 Putin series is replete with examples; and I've commented before how feebly China reacted to events in Libya, where they had invested (and then lost) a great deal.
Now they are busily putting themselves on the wrong side of history over Syria. Funnily enough, as Marxists (if only by long boyhood training) they should have a better grasp of how real can be the impact of popular revolutions. Didn't they used to be 'progressive' ?
In practice, all they can think about is: we really don't like the idea that regimes can change, at which point, maintaining the status quo is everything. This puts them on a par with the geriatric, paranoid House of Saud and is even feebler than the old American cry of we'll support anyone who can keep the Commies out. At least there was a modicum of flexibility to US realpolitik: if someone even better-placed to keep the Commies out happened along, they were willing to switch horses.
It's atavistic with the Russians, they are incorrigible; but one understands the Chinese are determined to learn - and deploy - the techniques of soft power. They've a way to go, and we should be glad of that.