For many years, Western nations have had a tendency to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries politically, economically and culturally.
It has become a tradition for these nations to see themselves as having the authority to meddle in other countries’ domestic affairs, especially during the election period.
Too often, western countries’ interferences have been the cause of violence and conflicts in relevant states and regions, something that has led to the emergence of strata within society, including the spread of hatred.
On 1 October 2020, the US Government, through its Embassy in Tanzania, issued a sharply worded statement, warning that if electoral procedures were not adhered to, they “will not hesitate to consider consequences for those found to be responsible for election-related violence or undermine the democratic process”.
A week later, the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo issued a similar statement on the upcoming elections in Africa, saying that his country
“would watch closely the actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process and will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for those responsible for election-related violence”.
It should be noted that while the United States continues to interfere in Tanzania’s general election, raising doubts about the credibility of election results and expressing concerns about Tanzanian Government’s commitment to democratic values, their presidential election back home is marred by the allegations of vote rigging.
So far, President Donald Trump has not admitted his defeat in the general election. He has repeatedly said that the electoral process is flawed in some states, rushed to court to have the ballots recounted and appealed for a thorough investigation to the alleged election fraud.
Apart from this year’s vote rigging allegations, in 2000 and 2016 US presidential election, there were allegations of election fraud and violation of election procedures as well.
Even so, no country has ever attempted to interfere in the US general election as blatantly as the US did to Tanzania this year, because most countries in the world respect the sovereignty of other nations.
Different from the US interference policy, China’s non-interference policy is very crucial in building friendly relations among countries in the world. Non-interference policy has been a catalyst for developing trade relations and cooperation among nations, which are especially important for the poor and developing countries.
Some Westerners regard China's non-interference policy as indifferent to people’s aspirations for democracy, civil liberty and defending of human rights, hence immoral and undesirable. But the fact is that China respects the sovereignty of other countries and believes foreign interference is morally wrong and likely to cause disturbances.
Look at what happened in North Africa and West Asia after the so-called “Arab Spring”! The toppling of entrenched governments with foreign interference has resulted in split and failing countries with increased instability and rising influence of the terrorist organizations.
NATO’s military intervention in Libya under the pretext of protecting civilians have brought more sufferings to the Libyan people due to the chaos and protracted military conflicts caused.
On the contrary, China follows the principle of non-inference in other countries’ internal affairs. Its position before, during and after the Tanzanian general election, through its Foreign Ministry spokespersons, is that China believes the Tanzanian Government and its people have the wisdom and capability to organize elections without any external interference, and it calls on all countries to respect the non-interference principle, support African countries’ independence and safeguard their unity and stability.
It is very important to understand that non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs does not mean that we do not care about the human rights situation, democracy and civil liberty in countries concerned, but reflects respect of other countries’ sovereignty and giving ownership to the countries concerned for promoting democracy and human rights cause in their own countries.
Actually, China does not oppose constructive involvement in other countries’ domestic conflicts which have international implications.
For example, the country played an important role in easing the tensions between the Government of Myanmar and the Rohingya people who previously lived in west Myanmar Rakhine State but fled to Bangladesh due to ethnic conflicts in 2017.
What China has done include provision of humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and persuasion of the Burmese and Bangladeshi governments to accept ceasefire and negotiate a solution to the refugee crisis.
Compared with military intervention and economic sanctions, China prefers to use political and peaceful means, such as mediation and provision of food and shelters to the refugees. The advantages of such methods are obvious: it can ensure political independence of the countries concerned, and provide a conducive environment for resolving domestic conflicts of certain countries.
We, Africans, need to understand that our countries are independent sovereign states, and no other country has the right to interfere in our internal affairs. We should not let anyone or any country dictate on how we should choose our leaders.
That being said, it is our sincere advice that the United States and other Western countries follow China’s example in strictly observing the non-interference principle, and respect African countries’ right in exploring the democracy path that suits their national conditions.