China recently concluded hosting a two-day China–Central Asia summit in the historic city of Xian where the ancient Silk Road connected imperial China to the cultures to its west. Addressing the leaders of the Central Asian countries, Chinese president Xi Jinping made statements on the future of Beijing’s engagement with the neighboring region through investment plans, freer trade terms, science and technology exchange, boosted tourism and agriculture, and security cooperation.
On the last point, Xi turned his attention to the United States. He minced no words saying, “We should act on the Global Security Initiative, and stand firm against external attempts to interfere in domestic affairs of regional countries or instigate color revolutions.” With this statement, Xi called out the US and warned against the type of meddling that Washington has discreetly carried out in recent decades..
This wouldn’t be the first time that the Chinese leader explicitly spoke out against color revolutions. At the latest Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan—coincidentally, another key node on the Silk Road—Xi warned leaders of Central Asia, Russia, India, Pakistan, and Iran that “it is important not to allow attempts by external forces to provoke a color revolution,” and that the member states should “jointly oppose interference in the affairs of other countries under any pretext.”
Again, none of these countries are run by governments that we here in the West would like to emulate, but attempting to covertly flip them into Jeffersonian Republics is underhanded and pushes those countries to distrust the US and its values entirely. After all, the two color revolutions within a decade that tore Ukraine apart were major contributing factors to the current conflict with Russia.
Ironically, China has become the country offering economic cooperation under the terms of national sovereignty and encouraging peace while the US claims to uphold the international “rules-based order” that has overthrown governments, brought economic turmoil, and waged despicable wars and militarism around the world. As the tensions and rivalry between the US and China continue to ramp up into the foreseeable future, more countries may start to favor the Chinese approach to doing business and become more confident in pushing back against America’s already wobbling influence on the world stage. Washington might find it increasingly risky to continue running the color revolution playbook.