This article argues that an explanation of China’s stance on a possi- ble international intervention in Darfur cannot eschew considering the wider context of the ongoing dialectics of normative change and contestation surrounding the progressive redefinition of norms of intervention since the early 1990s. It suggests that by emphasizing the need to respect Sudan’s sovereignty and the requirement that Sudan consent to an international intervention, China has sought to promote a return to more traditional forms of peacekeeping, as a way to oppose emerging interpretations of the norm of intervention, which it sees as a threat to its own security. Such an interpretation challenges the accusa- tions of foot-dragging of which China has been the object. The hypoth- esis is tested by analysing China’s voting and declaratory record in the Security Council, and assessed against the country’s historical record on peacekeeping discussions in the Council. Embracing Finnemore’s argument that multilateral intervention represents the pillar of the post-Cold War international order, the article concludes by relating China’s norm-brokering effort to its asserted interest in reshaping the international system.
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