Saferworld, an independent international non-governmental organization based in London, has just released a major study dated January 2012 and titled China and Conflict-affected States: Between Principle and Pragmatism. It is based on case studies in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Sudan and South Sudan. The authors are Ivan Campbell, Thomas Wheeler, Larry Attree, Dell Marie Butler and Bernardo Mariani.
The study concludes that China's priority is generally to maintain stable bilateral relations and it avoids overt engagement on conflict issues, except when vital interests are threatened. China tends to support a top-down model of stability, providing military assistance and arms to host governments. State sovereignty is regarded as sufficient to legitimize the transfer of Chinese arms in most cases. China's diplomatic approach to conflict-related issues in multilateral bodies remains firmly based on the principle of state sovereignty.
State stability is the basis for advancing mutual economic interests. This business-like approach to development often appears to yield quicker results than Western aid. Western policies linking aid to government performance in areas such as governance or human rights will become harder to pursue since China's presence as an alternative financier and diplomatic ally weakens Western leverage. Competition for influence between China and India will have greater significance for peace and stability in some countries than the relationship between China and the West.
You can access an abbreviated version of this report at China and Conflict-affected States: Risks and Opportunities for Building Peace.