keeping all others out of its bit of the continent, nor any hypocritical “civilisingmission”. When it perceives it could have a problem with its image, itresponds pragmatically: building hospitals, paying for malaria-preventionprogrammes, laying down railways. In Africa and Latin America it is focusingmore on taking stakes in local companies, not just buying up land andresources. It is also making forays into the use of soft power through anumber of Confucius Institutes all over the world that try—in frequently ham-fisted ways—to show that China and its culture are benign.China is “neither a missionary culture nor a values superpower,” says KerryBrown of the University of Sydney. “It is not trying to make other people intoChina.” The rhetoric of American foreign policy—and frequently its content,too—is shaped by claims to be the champion of democracy and liberty. TheCommunist Party is less committed to universal values. Alliances often growout of shared values; if you don’t have them, friends are harder to find. Awecan be a respectable alternative to friendship, and China has begun to awe theworld—but also to worry it.Clan-focused Confucianism and the fear bred by communismhave persuaded the Chinese to mind their own business:sweep the snow from in front of your own house, goes the oldsaying, don’t worry about the frost on your neighbour’s roof.If it adopts similar attitudes to the world at large, that may bebecause China faces problems on a global scale within its ownborders: it has more poor people than any other country saveIndia. When 160m of your own citizens are living on less than$1.25 a day, and many people are beginning to complainmore openly about your nation’s domestic problems, thedevelopment needs of Africans can seem less pressing.Accordingly, there is a tension in Chinese foreign policy. Thecountry wants to have as little involvement abroad as it canget away with, except for engagements that enhance its imageas a great power. It will act abroad when its own interests areat stake, but not for the greater or general good. Its navy hasstarted to take part in anti-piracy operations off the Horn ofAfrica and in UN peacekeeping in Africa. In 2011 it sent a shipto co-ordinate the evacuation of 36,000 Chinese workersfrom Libya. More such actions may follow as its companiesget more deeply involved in the world, but only if they areseen as either low-cost or absolutely necessary. Acuteawareness of its domestic weaknesses acts as a restraint, asdoes the damage China sees done by the militarisation ofAmerica’s foreign policy in recent years.