Free United Nations AND China Essay Sample
Since the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, its policy on international peacekeeping and peace-building activities has undergone significant changes. Initially, the Chinese government questioned the legitimacy of the UN peacekeeping activities. This situation was caused by the 1950-1953 Korean War during which the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China fought against the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping forces. Moreover, Beijing considered UN peacekeeping activities as flagrant interference in the domestic affairs of another state and violation of state sovereignty. This skeptical point of view was maintained by China even after the admission of PRC to the UN in 1971. Despite obtaining the permanent membership in the UN Security Council, China generally abstained from participating in debates on peacekeeping for many years.
Changes in Beijing’s approach to peacekeeping and peace-building activities took place only with the beginning of reform period due to the accession to power of Deng Xiaoping in the early 1980s. China took part in its first debates on peacekeeping in 1981 when it voted for the resolution on the extension of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (Kamphausen 25). Thus, PRC officially declared its understanding of the importance of UN peacekeeping activities and became a member of UN Committee on Peacekeeping Operations in 1988.
Although Beijing began to dispatch peacekeepers to United Nations operations since 1989, its contribution increased gradually and remained insignificant till 2003. In the early 2000s, China carried out a number of reforms aimed at enhancing its role in peacekeeping operations. First, in December 2001, it established Peacekeeping Affairs Office in the Ministry of National Defense. Second, in January 2003, it joined the UN Stand-by Arrangement System (UNSAS) and registered the number of peacekeepers that can be deployed to the UN Secretariat. Third, by the end of 2003, it established Peacekeeping Center, an institution that specializes in military training of personnel for UN peacekeeping operations (Masuda 12).
As a result of the domestic political system development, China started participating in UN peacekeeping and peace-building activities more actively. According to Stimson, the number of Chinese peacekeepers (medical units, engineering battalions, military observers and civilian police) involved in UN peacekeeping operations has increased about fortyfold from 52 in 2000 to 2146 in 2009. As of February 2015, PRC ranked 11th in the list of top contributors of troops to UN peacekeeping operations. China provided more peacekeeping personnel than any other permanent member of UN Security Council: France, United States, United Kingdom and Russian Federation. According to the United Nations official site, China’s military and police personnel numbered 2370 units and were located across nine peacekeeping missions in the Middle East, Africa and Cyprus. Moreover, China intends to increase its share of contribution to the UN peacekeeping budget from 3 to 6 percent of total budget and to become the 6th largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping activities by the end of 2015. Thus, China has evolved from the inveterate antagonist to one of the major contributors and participators of United Nations peacekeeping and peace-building activities.
The key feature of Chinese policy in all peacekeeping operations is its resort to so-called “soft power”. According to this principle, the main purposes of Chinese peacekeeping troops (which until quite recently were all non-combat units) are the creation of transport infrastructure, providing engineering services and health care. According to Tao’s article on the Ministry of National Defense of PRC website, “Chinese peacekeeping troops have built and renovated roads of 11,000-plus kilometers and 300-plus bridges, removed mines and unexploded explosive ordnance totaling 9,400, transported 1.1 million tons of materials and equipment with the transport mileage reaching 12 million kilometers. They have also treated more than 149,000 patients” (Tao). Such projects are considered by Chinese officials to be a substantial aspect of soft power.
Besides, Beijing’s blue-beret peacekeepers specialize in a diverse range of nation-building activities such as police training, reformation of political processes, providing of electoral assistance etc. Hereby, through the deployment of its personnel to peacekeeping operations, China fills a considerable gap left by other influential members of UN Security Council, whose contribution to peacekeeping is mostly financial or material, but does not include physical presence to a great extent.
However, the further involvement of PRC in globalization processes entails the modification of Beijing’s policy concerning the engagement in peacekeeping and peace-building activities. The current evolution of China’s peacekeeping policy during AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur, Sudan (UNAMID) and United Nations Missions in South Sudan (UNMISS) sheds light on special features of this modification.
Armed conflict between pro-governmental Arab militia of Sudan called Janjaweed and anti-governmental Darfur Liberation Front (DLF), mainly consisting of Christians, broke out in February 2003 when, in response to DLF-led uprising, Janjaweed committed genocide of non-Arabic peasants in Darfur. Obviously, UN Security Council could not turn a blind eye to this conflict and adopted some resolutions to request ceasefire and to guarantee human rights for the Sudanese government. However, the Security Council was unable to respond to the conflict to the fullest extent because China abstained from the vote for the use of sanctions against senior officials of Sudan. It also refused to vote for the establishment of UN peacekeeping operation in Darfur until the Sudanese government gives its consent. Instead, PRC stressed the necessity to resolve this conflict through international consultations only.
Despite the fact that Beijing’s peacekeeping policy usually remained risk-averse due to its strict adherence to the principle of upholding national sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs, this time China came in for criticism on the part of the international society. In particular, China has been accused that the real reason it abstained from voting was its close cooperation with Sudan in oil production. Under expanding criticism in international community, Beijing was forced to execute diplomatic maneuver and to resort to a more flexible implementation of the principle of non-interference in internal affairs. In fact, PRC started insistently urging the Sudanese government to consent the deployment of United Nations peacekeepers to Darfur.
In May 2007, the Chinese government decided to establish a new ambassador post, Special Representative on Africa Affairs, and to appoint special representative whose only mission was to solve the Darfur issue. During the next year, this special representative visited Sudan four times to negotiate the terms of the dispatch of UN peacekeeping troops in Darfur. On July 2007, “owing to the China’s diplomatic efforts, Sudan gave consent to deploy peacekeepers to its territory” (Masuda 12). Thus, the role of arbiter was played by China instead of the United Nations. It moved far beyond troop deployment and shifted to disputes-resolving and consensus-building activities. As a result, China strengthened its influence in Africa, protected its national economic interests, defused criticism of international community and became more responsive to its expectations.
Guided by economic interests in Africa, Beijing made another important change in peacekeeping policy which took place during its participation in UNMISS. Since the establishment of South Sudan as the independent state in July 2011, China invested in infrastructure and agriculture of this poorest African country over $8 billion. Thus, Moore points out that 5 percent of China’s oil import also comes from South Sudan. That’s why active involvement in the running civil conflict in this country is important for Beijing from a pragmatic point of view.
Because of the current conflict tensions in South Sudan, China resolved to depart from its usual policy of applying soft power only. In January 2015, Beijing dispatched 700 combat units in South Sudan for the first time in the history of its participation in peacekeeping operations worldwide. China began to make “full use of participation in UN peacekeeping operations in order to reduce tension in global hot-spots as far as the country continues to build favorable external environment for its long-term economic growth” (Kamphausen 25).
It should be noted that using international peacekeeping and peace-building activities as a policy tool enables Beijing to reap another bunch of benefits on the international arena. First, since peacekeeping receives the most publicity among other UN activities, Beijing’s strategic positioning as a main contributor to peacekeeping operations among other members of the Permanent Five of the UN Security Council is reflected in the appointment of China’s or pro-Chinese candidates to the key posts in United Nations. The telling example is the successful promotion of pro-Chinese candidate Ban Ki-moon to the post of UN Secretary-General in 2007.
Second, due to increasing participation in UN peacekeeping operations China promotes its international reputation as a responsible, benign and peaceful world power. Deploying mainly non-combat and civil peacekeeping personnel, Chinese government dispels fears of a militant China.
Finally, Beijing’s tangible contribution to peacekeeping and peace-building activities throughout the world balances Western influence in United Nations and establishes the acceptance of China as one of the biggest players in the field of international relations.
Kamphausen, Roy. “Beyond the Strait: PLA Missions Other Than Taiwan”. Apr. 2009. PDF file.
Masuda, Masayuki. “China’s Peacekeeping Diplomacy and Troop Dispatch: A New Avenue for Engagement with the International Community”. NIDS Journal of Defense and Security Dec. 2011: 3-27. Print.
Moore, Jack. “China to Deploy 700 Troops to South Sudan UN Mission to Protect Oil Investments.” International Business Times. International Business Times, 25 Sep. 2015. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
Tao, Zhang. “Chinese peacekeepers to exceed 3,000 by year end”. Ministry of National Defence of People’s Republic of China. Ministry of National Defence of People’s Republic of China, 8 Apr. 2015. Web. 12 Apr. 2015.
“The Dragon Brings Peace? Why China Became a Major Contributor to United Nations Peacekeeping.” Stimson, 12 Jul. 2013. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
“Troop and police contributors.” United Nations, 14 Mar. 2015. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
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