LONDON — Who would have thought that the Chinese Communist Party would become sensitive to world opinion? Strange as it may seem, Western criticism of China’s growing involvement in Africa has triggered outpourings of justificatory articles in CCP-controlled media as well as trips this year by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

There had been a lot of talk in the Western media about how China’s growing interest in Africa reflected a desire to secure access to raw materials from African countries. Nothing wrong with that — market competitors can slander each other in the hope of getting better terms — but the Chinese Communists reacted strongly. The CCP mouthpiece People’s Daily reported Wen’s screams that “no one can slander China for practicing neo-colonialism in Africa,” and Wen was quoted in Inna, the party-controlled news service, as claiming “there is no selfish interest for China to pursue in Africa.”

So the Chinese are buying all this oil, uranium, copper, chrome, timber, meat, etc. just to help the Africans out? In any case, it is nice to see the party getting sensitive to foreign criticism, however silly.

Wen also said, “in its dealings with Africa, China adheres to the principles of equality, mutual benefit and noninterference in countries’ internal affairs,” and that “we encourage African countries to improve democracy and the rule of law and to maintain social justice.”

It is surprising that Chinese communist leaders would extol the virtues of democracy, the rule of law, social justice and equality for Africa when they have never tried them in China. Under the leadership of Hu and Wen, China is moving backward on all these political virtues, making nonsense of the CCP’s criticism of the double standards of Western countries.

So we see undemocratic Chinese Communists, who block the rule of law in their own country and for whom the words “social justice” rot on their lips, actively working to encourage inequality and their own interests while telling the world that their foreign policy is based on the principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of other countries. The self-selected CCP leaders reach new levels of hypocrisy when they say they follow a policy of noninterference.

Try telling that to the citizens of Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Manchuria and Taiwan, not to mention Hainan, Yunnan and all the other “countries” overrun and occupied by Han Chinese and now labeled as part of the Chinese Empire.

What you have to remember is that the CCP leaders stole China from the Chinese people. Noninterference to them means working with leaders of other countries regardless of how those leaders came to power, and stay in power.

Noninterference in Africa means not questioning the right of dictators and autocrats, and corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, to govern. More than that, it means giving those tyrants and their supporters the means to strengthen control over their suffering peoples.

Recently China has most visibly protected the dictators of Sudan and Zimbabwe from United Nations criticism. It has also used its position on the U.N. Security Council to block actions designed to limit the sufferings of those peoples at the hands of corrupt dictatorial leaders. Meanwhile, the Chinese leaders provide the leaders with the weapons and finances to help them enforce their self-interested will on their suffering citizens.

Noninterference for the Chinese means feeling free to provide arms, military equipment and military training to the thugs who run many African countries so that they can extend their time in office and their ability to exploit their peoples.

Noninterference means supporting the leaders of countries regardless of their failings. Many, probably most, laughed after Wen lectured them on the importance of democracy, the rule of law, equality and social justice before giving them loans and grants that they could at least partially feed into their Swiss bank accounts.

“Dictators of Africa unite! You have nothing to lose but your Swiss bank accounts.” This should be the real rallying cry of the Chinese Communists for their comrades in Africa. Don’t tell Africa’s poor, sick, dying, brutalized and dead that China does not interfere in the way in which they are governed.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that hypocrisy is a unique vice of the Chinese communists. The Americans are quite good at it, as are the Europeans and most other “developed” countries.

For example, when likely future British Prime Minister Gordon Brown goes off on one of his aid safaris to Africa, you never hear him drawing on his political philosophy and ethical stance to criticize the ways in which the leaders he meets degrade and dehumanize the poor people of their countries.

On the other hand, there is some credibility in Western leaders’ calls for democracy, the rule of law, social justice and equality. There is none in such calls from Chinese leaders.

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