But as a good empiricist I need to keep my assessment up-to-date, and here's an interesting marker, from the Peoples Daily Online (English version, natch). They've translated the headline: Is China Wrong To benefit From Iraq?, but I stuck the original into google translate, and it came up with the rather more revealing: China on the issue of Iraq "free rider" wrong? which neatly captures the concern - as ever, a tad defensive about how they are perceived. Is China just letting the USA et al do the heavy lifting for them in Iraq ? At which point, under his banner of every nation for its own self-interest, our friend Budgie will no doubt say: why not ? But clearly the Chinese see the need to cover the statesmanlike angle.
Here are some salient gobbets.
Taking advantage of stability in Iraq and the Middle East as a whole, China makes substantial profits from the petroleum trade*, which further promote the healthy development of relationships between China and Iraq ... Responding to Obama's announcement of airstrikes against extremists in Iraq, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Beijing "has an open mind towards any actions that help to ensure security and stability in Iraq" ...
China hopes that the U.S. will make a further contribution to Iraq's reconstruction and development, and deal rationally with China's contributions to Iraq in trade, investments and infrastructure. As China's political and economic interests sharply expand in the world, it is increasingly necessary for U.S. to cooperate with China when it comes to vital global issues. In view of this changing situation, even if Obama does not request China's participation, China will pay close attention to international affairs.To my ear, the contrast between this and Putin's typical pronouncements is noticeable. I know who's the more likely to get a constructive 'phonecall from Washington.
* an interesting statement, n'est-ce pas ?